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Rico Rohas
Walter Fritz

Harvick Hangs On For Eighth With At Phoenix International Raceway

Posted By: Brian Thornsburg on 3/14/2016

Four inches. That's the distance the separated Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards as they came to the line in the Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. While Edwards did look strong on the final restart of the race, gaining ground on Harvick and ultimately trying to move him out of the way for the win in the last turn, it was Harvick that would hold on to capture the checkered flag by .10 seconds.

"Well, I knew he was better through (Turns) 3 and 4," Harvick told reporters about his last lap battle with Edwards for the win. "That was not the car that I wanted to see behind me. I knew I could beat him down there, and I tried to protect the bottom in (Turns) 3 and 4 and I just missed the bottom with all the rubber build-up on the tires and everything.

Harvick continued his recollection of the last lap by telling reporters” all in all, I knew I was going to be on defense down there. I got up too high and wasn't able to stay on the bottom like I wanted to, and then he got into me, like he should have, and I needed to get a good run off the corner, and I was going to have to get into his door and it worked out -- just barely."

Not only was this one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history, it was also the closest finish in the history of Phoenix International Raceway. The win is Kevin Harvick's first win of the year, the 33rd win of his career and his eight win at Phoenix International Raceway. The win will also guarantee Harvick a spot in The Chase in September.

Carl Edwards came home second, Denny Hamlin finished third, Kyle Busch finished fourth and Dale Earnhardt Jr rounded out the top five in the fifth position. Austin Dillion was one of the drivers that opted not to pit before the final restart and fell from third to eight on the final restart. Dale Earnhardt Jr. suffered a slide as well, going from second to fifth on the final restart of the race.

2016 Daytona 500 Recap

Posted By: Bobby Checkerfield on 2/21/2016

Chase Elliott did the unthinkable by starting in first as a rookie driver. Elliott wrecked his car after 20 laps.

Elliott wasn't the only driver to leave the Daytona 500 with his car wrecked in 2016. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick also left the race with wrecked vehicles.

Matt Kenseth led the final 32 laps. Kenseth looked like he won this race. He made a bad turn on the final lap as Denny Hamlin was creeping on him. Kenseth fell from first and finished 14th.

Denny Hamlin edged out Martin Truex Jr. by 0.011 seconds which was the closest finish in NASCAR History. Brian Thornsburg predicted the Daytona 500 winner for the second year in a row. Kyle Busch finished third and Kevin Harvick finished fourth. Carl Edwards and Joey Logano finished fifth and sixth.

This race was legendary. You have love the comeback by Hamlin. I found a clip of the final 5 laps on Youtube and this is a must watch.

Previewing The Daytona 500

Posted By: Brian Thornsburg on 2/20/2016

Like I said last year, The Daytona 500 is not an easy race to predict. It is essentially a 200 lap winner takes all death race that can either cement your name in history or leave you in the hole after only one race in the season. It is also the first race of the season that drivers have a chance to lock themselves into the championship chase that takes place later in the year, making the stakes higher than ever before.

With that being said, there is one stat that is usually a great indicator of whether a driver will be taking home the checkered flag or sitting on pit road wondering what could have been. That stat of course is speed. While some might see speed as not a big factor in a race like this, especially with the cars being bunched together at high speeds throughout most of the race, it’s the faster cars that are going to be able to punch through the air of the pack and power past the leaders for the win.

But who has the kind of speed that would allow them to do this? Well, one needs to look no further than the events that have already taken place during Speedweek's to find out the answer to that question. One driver who has shown great speed during this year’s annual Speedweek’s is Denny Hamlin, who was the fastest driver in final practice for The Sprint Unlimited and even went on to win the event the very next evening.

Another Joe Gibbs Racing driver who has shown great speed during Speedweek’s is Matt Kenseth, who won the outside pole for The Daytona 500 and even led 23 laps in his Can Am Duel qualifier before getting caught up a last lap incident. Although Kenseth’s car was destroyed in the multi car incident that took out a quarter of the field in the final moments of the race, he can still rely on his teammates to help him find a comfortable set up for The Daytona 500.

Then there's Kyle Busch. The defending Sprint Cup Champion showed a little speed of his own during Speedweek’s, qualifying in the Top-ten on pole day last Sunday and winning his Can Am Duel race later that week. Another thing that points to The Las Vegas native having a great car for the 500 is the fact that he dominated his duel race on Thursday, leading 35 laps before the end of the night.

Unfortunately for JGR, this one huge thing standing in their way of winning The Daytona 500 this year and that’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. Not only is Jr already a two time champion in 500, he also blew past Denny Hamlin with only ten laps to go in the first Can Am Duel of the night and ultimately went on to win the race. The win was devastating to the rest of the field as even Joey Logano talked about his frustrations on not being able to pass him for the win.

With that in mind, it is obvious that Dale Earnhardt Jr's car excels at two crucial things at Daytona. 1, having the speed to pass other drivers out of nowhere and 2, the ability to block the rest of the field once he has settled into the race lead. To combat the kind of dominance that Jr has shown on his own, JGR is going to have to work together in the closing laps of Sundays race to get one of those drivers to victory lane.

As for who has the best chance at accomplishing this on Sunday, I have to go with Denny Hamlin. Not only has he not had an accident during the entirety of Speedweek's, he has also showed great speed in every race he has competed in so far. That alone should make Denny Hamlin a huge threat on Sunday and ultimately who I pick to win the entire thing.

Kyle Busch: NASCAR's Next Dynasty

Posted By: Walter Fritz on 2/20/2016

Kyle Busch captured his first championship last year. Busch is 30 years old. Jimmie Johnson didn't win his first championship until he was 31-years-old, but ended up winning 4 more in a row with 5 consecutive championships from 2006-2010.

Busch won't have any long term competition outside of 25-year-old Joey Logano. Jimmie Johnson is 40-years-old now. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is now 41-years-old, and Matt Kenseth is 43-years-old. To top that off, Tony Stewart is retiring after this year. Kevin Harvick is 40 as well.

For the latter half of this decade and most of the next decade the two racers we'll hear about are Kyle Busch and Joey Logano. Martin Truex Jr and Denny Hamlin are both 35-years-old so both of them should be in NASCAR until at least 2020. Ryan Newman is 38-years-old.

NASCAR much like the NBA had so much premium talent in the 70's, 80's and 90's. Then in 2000, NASCAR's talent died down a little after legends like Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Sr., and Kyle Petty left the sport.

Unknowns like Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Tony Stewart established themselves as superstars in the early 2000's along with Matt Kenseth. Sure those guys are racers our generation idolizes, but Johnson was the only driver that showed flashes of Earnhardt Sr. or Richard Petty.

Gordon retired in 2015 finishing second to Kyle Busch, the man who idolized Gordon growing up as a kid. Stewart will join him after this season and most of the sports best racers are gonna retire soon leaving Busch and Logano as the only racers guaranteed to be in NASCAR for the next 10-15 years leading up to 2030.

Busch probably won't win five in a row like Jimmie Johnson. I can see him winning 3 Sprint Cup Series in five years. He will win one more title by 2020. His victory over Gordon in 2015 wasn't a fluke and it's time we as NASCAR viewers acknowledge that Busch is the best.

Kyle Busch may not repeat. My point is he is in a position to be a very dominant racer for the next decade and a half with the depth and talent at the top dying down as Gordon and Stewart retire while the rest of the sports best racers enter their 40's.

Time To Hang It Up Tony Stewart

Posted By: Brian Thornsburg on 2/6/2016

Tony Stewart is done, or at least he should be.

There won't be any farewell season, no final win, no final moments of greatness for fans to remember. No, the only thing Tony Stewart fans will be left with are the three-time champion's accomplishments of yesteryear and the painful reminder that that he is the victim of his own risk-taking behavior.

While many fans and drivers are hoping that Stewart will be able to take his final bow in the Sprint Cup Series this season, the severity and history of his injuries point to that just not being the case. In fact, even if the Stewart-Haas Racing owner was in full health, he would still have to deal with the performance problems that have plagued him and his team for the past three years in the Sprint Cup Series.

With that in mind, and the laundry list of Stewart's injuries growing longer and longer every year, it only makes sense that Tony Stewart should cut his farewell season short and finally bow out of the sport that has seemingly left him in the dust over the past couple years. Not doing so would only leave Stewart's legacy further shrouded in the disappointing turns that his career has taken in the last couple of years.

It all started in 2013 when Stewart broke two bones his leg during a Sprint Car crash at Southern Iowa Speedway. The injury was bad enough to force Stewart to sit out for the rest of the season, but that would only be the beginning of the long list of problems off the track that he would endure.

His troubles continued in 2014 where Stewart missed three races after a tragic Sprint Car accident that resulted in the death of Kevin Ward Jr. Although many fans thought that he might have been able to put the incident behind him and go back to focus on racing, these incidents have continued to haunt Stewart over the last couple of years. These examples wouldn't be that glaring if Stewart was a younger man, but with age becoming a factor more and more every day, how can an old man be expected to keep up in a young mans sport?

In addition to his off track incidents, he has also had quite a few instances of angry outbursts as well. One example of this was when Stewart was ran into on pit road by Brad Keselowski at Lowes Motor Speedway and retaliated by backing up right into Keselowski's car. Stewart later faced a hefty fine for the incident but somehow was able to avoid speaking to reporters on the matter.

Lastly, there was the incident he had when him and fan got into a brief argument at The Chili Bowl this year. The altercation was quickly broken up by security and a investigation was eventually launched into the fans actions, but that still didn't give Stewart the right to let his anger get the best of him.

Unfortunately for fans, its time for Tony Stewart to hang up his helmet. Not only will not doing so result in a lackluster performance in his final season, it is also another chance for Stewart to do something that will affect his legacy in the sport of NASCAR. Beyond all that, what else does Stewart have left to prove?

Stewart is already a three time Sprint Cup Champion, held the record for most wins in a rookie season, was the first driver since Alan Kulwicki to win a title as both a owner and a driver and was also one of the most controversial personalities in all of racing. If anything, Stewart has left enough of a legacy for several lifetimes of fans to enjoy.

There is no doubt in anyone's mind that The Sprint Cup Series would never be the same without Tony Stewart behind the wheel, but its getting to the point where Stewart needs to do whats best for him and start to focus on finding a level of peace in his life. Something he hasn't shown during the last couple years of his Sprint Cup career.

Does Kevin Harvick Deserve To Be In The Eliminator Round

Posted By: Brian Thornsburg and Rico Rohas on 10/26/2015

Rico Rohas: Kevin Harvick's stunt while crashing into the drivers was classless. Dale Earnhardt Jr. should be in the Elimination Round of the Chase. What have the other drivers done besides Earnhardt Jr. over the past three races that makes them more qualified than Harvick who did not win a single race.

Brian Thornsburg: Like it or not, eliminating Harvick does not warrant putting Earnhardt in the round of eight. While Earnhardt was robbed an opportunity of getting a win and securing his spot in the next round, Denny Hamlin would and should be the one to advance if Harvick was eliminated. The reason for this is we know for a fact that Harvick would have fell to the back of the pack, but we don't know that Earnhardt would have been able to pass Logano with two to go. Honestly, the second GWC shouldn't have happened and that's where NASCAR went wrong. Everything would have been fine if they would have stuck to the rules they set at the beginning of the week.

Joey Logano Sweeps Contender Round

Posted By: Bobby Checkerfield on 10/25/2015

Joey Logano made NASCAR history in 2015 when he won all 3 races in the Contender Round. If you ask me, anybody who wins three races in a row in a round should get a spot in the Championship Race.

Joey Logano began his run when he won the Bank Of America 500 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Logano repeated in the next race of the Contender Round when he won the Hollywood Casino 400 in Kansas City at the Kansas Speedway. Today Joey Logano edged out Dale Earnhardt Jr. CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway International.

Logano should at least get an extra 100 points over the other racers because the Chase should be about who wins on a consistent basis as well as the top finishers in the Chase down the stretch in the next few races.

Kenseth Wins In The Granite State

Posted By: Brian Thornsburg on 9/28/2015

Sometime in racing it's about being in the right place at the right time. That's exactly what happened to Matt Kenseth, when Kevin Harvick ran out of fuel with two laps to go and handed Kenseth the win and a spot in the next round of the Chase.

Harvick had dominated most of the day, leading 216 laps of 298, but thanks to a 21 first place finish, now finds himself in a must win situation next week at Dover. Adding to the tension of Harvick's postseason storyline, is the fact that he has never won at monster mile during his 14 year career.

As for Kenseth, the win was the 5th win of the season and the 36th win of his Sprint Cup career. The win also guarantees him a spot in the next round of the Chase and puts him one step closer to the second Sprint Cup championship of his career as well. Kenseth's also puts manufacturer, Toyota, two for two so far in the Chase this season. That's scary!

JGR Are The Big Three of NASCAR: Is anyone else a little terrified that Joe Gibbs Racing takes up the first three spots in the point standings right now? If that isn't enough to terrify some fans, what about the fact that two of the three JGR drivers are already guaranteed a spot in the next round of the Chase thanks to their wins in the first two weeks of the Chase.

While Edwards is the lone man in the top three that isn't guaranteed a spot yet in the next round of the Chase, he can pretty much punch his ticket next week with a win or a Top 30 finish at Dover International Speedway. As for Kyle Busch, who currently sits outside the top 12 in points, he will need to have a pretty solid Top 15 day in order to make it to the next round of the Chase.

On The Bubble: With only one race to go in the challenger round of the Chase, four unlucky and unlikely drivers find themselves on the bubble and in danger of having their entire season blow up in a cloud of smoke. Those drivers are Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard and Kyle Busch.

Of course a win guarantees them a spot in the next round without question, but a solid finish in the Top 10 should suffice for a ticket to the next round of the chase as well. Keep in mind though that if Kevin Harvick does not punch a ticket to the next round of the Chase next week, then we are guaranteed a new Sprint Cup Champion for 2015.

Top 5 Picks To Win At Darlington

Posted By: Brian Thornsburg on 9/5/2015

Top 5 Picks To Win At Darlington

While Darlington might be known as the track too tough to tame, some drivers have fared better at the egg shaped track then others. With that being said, here are five drivers who have the best chance of coming away with a victory in Sunday's Southern 500.

5. Kyle Busch

You can't really talk about contenders this season with giving a brief mention to Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Kyle Busch. Not only has he won’t four races since his return from a leg injury at Daytona, but has managed to put himself in The Top 30 in points as well. Looking at his history at Darlington, Busch has two Top 10's in the last two races at the track.

While that might not seem like a reason to make him a solid pick to win it all on Sunday, his 295 laps lead in the last two races certainly are.

4. Jeff Gordon

The Jeff Gordon retirement tour continues this Sunday at Darlington, where Gordon will search for his 8th win at Darlington Raceway in his 22-year career in The Sprint Cup Series. Gordon might not have won at the track lately, but he still has 23 Top 10 finishes that prove he knows his way around the egg shaped oval. If that isn't enough to give Gordon fans a little hope heading into Sunday Nights race, Gordon has an average finish of fifth or better at Darlington.

3. Ryan Newman

Not a likely pick, I know, but he definitely has the same level of experience at the track that Jeff Gordon does. In fact, the former Stewart Haas driver has 11 Top 10's in 16 races and has led 324 laps in that time span. If that isn't enough to woo you in Newman’s favor, consider that Newman wasn't expected to make it to the final four in last year's Chase, but he still did!

2. Tony Stewart

I believe in miracles and that's why I choose Tony Stewart as a solid pick for this week's race. While Stewart has been dealing with some issues off the track, that won't be enough to stop him from winning his first race of the season and making the Chase for the first time since 2012. He already has 12 Top 10's in 22 races at the track and has an average finish of 11th or better at the track.

1. Denny Hamlin

Finally, there's Denny Hamlin. Not only has he had seven Top 10's in the last nine races at the track, he also has never finished outside The Top 20 at the track as well. These stats along with JGR's current dominance in the Sprint Cup Series should be enough to convince any fan that Denny has a huge chance of coming away with the big win on Sunday.

Three Laps to Go: Logano Wins 3rd Race Of Season

By: Brian Thornsburg on 8/24/2015

It's time once again for "Three Laps to go" a feature here at Draft Utopia where we delve into the biggest NASCAR stories of the week and give our take on them. Sometimes they're right, sometimes they're wrong and sometimes they're just for shock value. With that being said, here’s our topics for three laps to go this week.

Lap 1 Should Joey Logano be considered a favorite now that he has three wins this season?: Even if he didn't win at Bristol over the weekend, Logano should still be considered a huge threat for the title this season. He already won the 500 in February, moved the defending champion out of the way for a win at The Glen and now has conquered Thunder Valley for two years in a row. If that doesn't make Logano a serious threat to the title, then maybe his consistency throughout the regular season will. As it stands, Logano has 14 Top 5's and 18 Top 10's this year as well. Not to mention the fact that he won two races in the Chase last year and made the final four as well.

Lap 2 Was Darlington the right choice for NBC to broadcast on their main channel?: This might sound biased, but I think NBC would have been a lot better off to broadcast either the Bristol race this week or Watkins Glen two weeks ago. Both of those tracks have an added sense of excitement to them that Darlington seems to lack a lot of the time. Sure, it's an intense endurance race, but most of the time drivers end up racing the track and not each other. With that being said, the fact that it's a night race gives it a little sense of added excitement, but not enough to the point where it should be featured on NBC's main channel, especially if this is supposed to attract new viewers. If you want to attract new viewers to NASCAR, show a night race or a road course race, not a race that is bound to make even the most hard core fans change the channel after the first 50 laps.

Lap 3 Will Jeff Gordon get a win before the end of the year? If he does, his best chance is going to be at Talladega later this year. He already led 87 laps in The Daytona 500, 47 laps at Talladega and even won the pole for both races. With that being said, Talladega is Gordon’s last and best chance at ending up in victory lane before his Sprint Cup Career comes to an end. He also has six wins at The Super Speedway, making him an expert of sorts at the track.

Three Laps to Go: Busch's Biggest Detriments Heading Into The Chase

By: Brian Thornsburg on 8/17/2015

Do you have what it takes to write NASCAR articles for Draftutopia.com? Email us at brianethorn@gmail.com and become our next featured writer. We have a massive network of readers anxious to see your first piece. Just send us an email with your name, how many articles you can submit a week and sample article of any topic you choose.

It's time once again for three laps to go. A relatively new segment on Draft Utopia where I look at the three biggest storyline questions of this week's race and give my opinion on how they will play out. I might get them right, I might get them wrong, but I will definitely be accused by readers of being a Kyle Busch hater in the end.

What’s wrong with Hendrick Motorsports? I don't think it has anything to do with HMS losing ground, but has everything to do with everyone else in the field catching up. Joe Gibbs Racing has been on a collective roll sense the rules package change and honestly show no sign of slowing down in the meantime. No, I'm not insinuating that Toyota and Ford are cheating or getting special help, I'm just saying that Hendrick and Stewart Haas hasn't been able to find the same kind of speed that Joe Gibbs and Penske have. Hopefully Hendrick and Stewart Haas will show improvements when the rule package changes back to normal during the Chase but I don't think that's even going to be enough to slow Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing down.

Who grabs The Final Chase spot in the Next Three Weeks?: I have two people that I'm stuck between for the final Chase spot this year. The first one is Clint Bowyer, and the second is, Austin Dillon. Starting with Bowyer I believe he could change his luck around and get a win at Richmond, which would guarantee him a spot in this year’s Chase. Even if he is not able to do that, he will still make the Chase as long as he stays out trouble. Kasey Kahne, the person that is three points behind him in the Chase, is very vulnerable right now and has no chance of maintaining the same amount of consistency as Bowyer, especially if you consider Bowyer's previous performances at Richmond.

Then there’s Austin Dillon, Dillon might be out of The Chase from a points perspective, but I could see him winning at one of the final three tracks and making it to the post season for the first time in his career. His best chance, in my opinion, is Richmond. RCR has had a lot of success there with Kevin Harvick and Richard Childress in the past, so getting a win here may be more likely then fans want to admit. He had a strong showing this week at Michigan, giving him a lot of momentum with three races to go.

What Will be Kyle Busch's Biggest Detriment Come Chase Time?: Honestly, there are many detriments that could cost Kyle Busch his chance at a title. The first one being that NASCAR announced they will be returning to the original rules package at the start of the Chase. This presents two problems, 1 Busch was out for the first part of the season and we didn't see how he performs with the rule package, 2, when he did make his return, his results were very mixed with the original package. This isn't as much as a detriment to his chances as they are a huge question mark hanging over him.

Another detriment for Busch is the way he races. While fans of old Rowdy will admit that they love his brash and take no prisoners style of racing, which might be the thing that gets him sent packing by the hallway point in the Chase. He needs to play conservative and only fight for wins if he knows he has the car to do it. He also needs to avoid putting himself in reckless situations, something that the younger Busch brother is known for.

Also, does anyone else have a problem with Busch going into the Chase with a rookie Crew Chief as his partner? I'm not saying that Adam Stevens is a horrible crew chief by any means, but how he stacks up against the Chad Knaus's, Rodney Childers, and Paul Wolfe's in the Chase remains to be seen.

Finally, he needs to avoid pissing off any of the other drivers in the Chase, or he could be the victim of someone's revenge plot really quick. It happened so many times during last year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup and there is no doubt that it will happen again. Busch needs to keep his nose clean and race clean as much as possible if he wants to avoid getting turned. It's up to him how he races, but he will have to deal with the consequences as well.

Questions And Answers Pace Laps Edition

By: Brian Thornsburg on 8/6/2015

You have questions, we have answers. This is pace laps a new feature on Draft Utopia where we debate the hot topics of the week and give our take on what's happening in the world of NASCAR. This week we take a look at the Top 30 rule, if there is any advantages in the current Chase format and who will be hoisting the championship at Homestead. Enjoy!

1. Does The Chase format need to change if Kyle Busch is able to make it into the Top 30?

NASCAR created the new Chase format in the spring of 2014 to put more emphasis on winning and less on the consistency of a driver throughout the season. While Busch has missed 11 races this season and still remains outside of the Top 30 cut off spot, he has fulfilled the purpose of the new format and won four races this season. That alone should guarantee him a spot in this year's Chase regardless of how many races he has won this year.

With that being said, the Top 30 rule should be scrapped in favor of something a little more consistent with NASCAR's current Chase format. Maybe instead of the Top 30 rule, NASCAR should make a rule where drivers who have been out with an injury are required to win two races in order to make The Chase that season. That make give these drivers a steep enough challenge while also ensuring that drivers that win on a consistent basis also make The Chase.

Let's be honest, Kyle Busch fan or not, it would be an absolute tragedy if a driver that won four races this season didn't make The Chase. I would even go as far as to say that it delegitimizes The Chase all together. In the end, it's all about winning and Kyle Busch has already done that four times this season, so please NASCAR, scrap the Top 30 rule and let this driver in The Chase!

2. Who should be the favorite to win The Chase in November?

No one. The new Chase format isn’t really about favorites. No matter how many races you win during the regular season, your championship hopes can all come down to one accident in one race. While I view that as a little unforgiving, especially since so much of the championship is determined by luck, I still believe this is the best championship format for NASCAR right now.

It creates excitement and anticipation. That’s what NASCAR needs in its sport right now. With that being said, you really can't determine a favorite. Hendrick Motorsports won over ten races last season and none of them made the championship round of the Chase in Homestead. It's not about favorites, it's about luck.

3. Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon for the championship at Homestead.

You really have to give the advantage to the Toyotas right now in The Sprint Cup Series, they have been on a role since the rule package change at Kentucky and haven't looked back ever since.

If Chevy wants any chance of winning a title this year, they desperately need to search for speed and dominance on the race track. The bad luck The Chevy drivers have been having lately has not helped either.

I would have to give the title to either Kyle Busch or Harvick come the final week of The Chase. Harvick was dominant in The Chase last season, winning three races in The Chase and having stellar finishes in the other races as well.

With that being said, if Busch can keep out of trouble and continue his dominant ways this season, the championship should no doubt be his come Homestead. It's just a matter of it they can carry their current success into the final ten races of The Chase, or if Chevy is saving their best stuff for last.

Five Reasons Fox Sports Does It Better

By: Brian Thornsburg on 7/30/2015

Can't you just admit? Seriously. Take a few moments to think about some of the highlights during NBC's coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and tell me how they are as good if not better then what Fox put on at the beginning of the season. You can't, can you?
With that being said, here are five reasons why Fox Sports will always be the preferred broadcasting station for NASCAR fans. So sit back, relax, and get ready to strap those seatbelts tight one more time! Boogity Boogity Boogity Fox is better than NBC Sports boys!

5. The Grid Walk: If there's anyone that knows how to show personality, it's Michael Waltrip. The way he walks through the grid before the green is always good for a chuckle or two. Especially with his usual silly questions and antics that are sure to put fans in a good mood before the green flag even drops. The segment is even better when Michael walks through the infield motor lot during rain delays. Mostly because it allows for Waltrip to catch drivers off guard and makes for more interesting television as well. This is something that NBC might want to try, if they want to induce more personality into their broadcasts.

4. Theme Music: Fox Sports has had some awesome themes songs over the past few years. While this might seem like a nitpick, consider those people who just stumble across the channel and see graphics of cars going around with kick ass music to it. It's sure to grab their attention and at least give the sport a few minutes to keep the attention. Personally I liked the sideways theme Dirks Bentley did in 2012, but I love how they now do a different opener for every track they visit. It really shows that Fox Sports is willing to go the extra mile for their fan base.

3. Personality: While NBC seems to lack personality during their coverage of The Sprint Cup Series, Fox Sports announcers are usually oozing with it. From boogity boogity boogity at the beginning of the race, to some of the funniest interviews ever done in motor sports, Fox Sports makes NASCAR fun and exciting to watch from beginning to end. The pre-show skits and panel discussions before the show are only an added bonus of the personality that fans can see from Fox Sports.

2. No favorites: Despite what Fox Sports detractors will tell you, Fox does not play favorites when it comes to their coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. If Dale Jr is having a bad day, they treat him like every other driver. It's that simple! You talk about the stories that are in front of you, not just the stories that you think will appeal to everyone. That's what Fox does best and NBC does the worst. NBC wouldn't be so bad, if they would focus on the other drivers instead of riding the Kyle Busch Bandwagon, but it seems like that’s all their interested in doing.

1. Flawless Execution: I might be in the minority here, but I think that Fox Sports has given fans the best coverage possible during their part of the season. The pre-race segments are funny, the panel discussions are engaging, the theme songs are attention grabbing, the announcing and play by play is spot on, the audio doesn't bug out during interviews in the car, and most importantly, Fox doesn't cut to a commercial every five minutes during a caution. They actually sit and talk about what's going on in the race so far. Even recapping the races events sometimes. That's something that NBC really needs to fix and soon!

Is The Busch Saga Ruining NASCAR?

By: Brian Thornsburg on 7/21/2015

Is auto racing becoming a glorified reality show right in front of fans eyes? That is the question that fans should be asking themselves after witnessing Kyle Busch win his third race of the season in only eight starts. While that's not to imply that the outcomes of Sprint Cup races are scripted, the way that NBC chooses to showcase Busch's comeback story certainly is.

From the second NBC's coverage begins every weekend, the first story on their mind is of course the comeback of Kyle Busch. He’s almost always the first interview of the broadcast, he constantly is the subject of debates throughout the preshow and NBC keep playing his crash at Daytona in February almost religiously.

The problem with this is that like other sports, NASCAR has many other stories that they should be selling NASCAR fans on. What about Dale Jr hunting for the first title of his career? What about Kevin Harvick trying to repeat as champion? Hell, what about Jeff Gordon's last season as a Sprint Cup driver? Why in the world would NASCAR not be focusing on that?

NASCAR on FOX made a similar mistake by focusing their coverage on Kurt Busch's abuse scandal and Jeff Gordon's retirement tour. While these were certainly huge storylines that FOX had every right to follow throughout the season, there were other storylines that deserved fans attention as well.

For example, what about Larry McReynolds last race as booth broadcaster? Sure, he would only be moving to the Hollywood Hotel studio next season, but this was a man that had been alongside Darrel Waltrip since the 2001 Daytona 500. How does FOX reward that undying loyalty? They give him a two minute farewell speech in the middle of the race and then cut it short when there's an accident on the track.

It's almost like when ESPN became Jeremy Lin obsessed and devoted at least 35 minutes of their hourly coverage to Jeremy Lin highlights. Sure, the Jeremey Lin story was inspirational and deserved a good chunk of ESPN's attention, but they didn't have to go all out and make him out to be the next Tim Tebow or anything.

That's exactly what NBC is doing here. They are talking a sport that has so many storylines to discuss and making it the Kyle Busch show. How does Kyle Busch feel? How many points is he away from making The Chase? Where is he on the leaderboard? Oh, he wrecked? Well, how well does he have to finish now to make the Chase in September?

These are all great questions for the NBC reporters to ask, but what about the other drivers? I'll admit that NBC did a great job on being fair and balanced when the Coke Zero 400 was broadcast on their main channel, but since it moved to NBCSN, it seems that NASCAR has been nothing but a sideshow act with Busch as their main attraction.

Another example of this is the treatment of the Alex Bowman incident during Sunday's race. Bowman's car had caught fire at the exit of pit road, ultimately ending the driver's day prematurely. Instead of NBC showing different angles of the accident and doing an interview with Bowman, they decided to just keep cutting to commercial break and waiting for updates on Kyle Busch's day. In fact, Bowman never got a post incident interview at all!

NBC could have at least made an offhand joke about the firefighter who fell on while exiting his safety vehicle, but again, since nothing new was happening in the Kyle Busch saga, NBC decided to just cut to a commercials break. No pit road update, no front runner updates, just more commercials!

This isn't to say that the Kyle Busch story is the only thing wrong with NBC's coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but it's a glaring example of a broadcasting company that has no idea what it is doing and is desperately trying to cling on to one single story. There are 42 other cars on track during any given weekend, why not try to make some interesting stories about that instead of trying to put a new spin on the Kyle Busch saga?

Is Your Driver Chase Ready?

By: Brian Thornsburg on 7/14/2015

Is your favorite driver ready for The Chase? While most fans will probably offer a biased answer of yes, other fans will look beyond the fanfare and see that some of their favorite driver's stats just don't add up to a championship. For those fans that look at these stats and still see a championship in their favorite driver's future, you might want to think about your expectations a little more realistically.

The first of these drivers who are not ready for The Chase is, Carl Edwards. Cousin Carl thought a new team would make all the difference in 2015, but only has 1 Top 5 and three Top 10 to show for it. He also has two DNF's and hasn't managed two consecutive Top 10 finishes this entire season.

Looking at Edward's performance at Chase tracks, his best finish was his win at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the spring. Beyond that, Edwards only other decent finish was his tenth place showing at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this year. His performance at the rest of The Chase tracks have been 11th or worse, with his worst finish being 32nd at Talladega Super Speedway.

In all honestly, without a level of consistency, competitiveness and good luck, Edwards will no doubt be nothing more than a lame duck in The 2015 Chase. He is the weakest of the four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, he has the worst record of all the race winners this season, and continues to be an afterthought week after week. This doesn't championships. This equals career obscurity.

Another drivers Chase hopes that are already up in smoke, is Jeff Gordon. Gordon has two Top 5's, Ten Top 10's and 0 wins this season. While Gordon has managed to be a bit more competitive then Edwards, he still falls far below the mark when it comes to being ready for The Chase in September. In fact, Gordon probably won't even make it through the first round of The Chase.

One of the things that make me say that, is Gordon's lack of competitiveness so far in the 2015 season. Sure, he had great runs at tracks like Phoenix, Texas, Martinsville and Kansas, but wasn't competitive enough to capture the win in those races. For those that think consistency is enough win in a title in the new Chase format, just look at Kyle Busch's result when he tried that in last year's Chase.

Finally, there’s Martin Truex Jr. While many probably won't agree with this pick at all, there is very good reason for Truex being on this list. Despite having 14 Top 10's, five Top 5 and even a win this season, he sadly still a part of a one team organization that could never dream of competing with The Hendricks. The Gibbs and The Stewart Haas Racing drivers.

That's not to say he hasn't so far this season, but when it comes down to the title being on the line, you better bet that the wealthier team owners in NASCAR will be tossing money like crazy in order to help their driver win a title. This not only puts Truex at a financial disadvantage, but a numbers advantage as well.

The reason for the disadvantage is simple. Truex races for a one car team known at Furniture Row Racing. While this team has made The Chase before with Kurt Busch behind the wheel, it didn't take long for the multicar teams to leave him in the dust. Especially with all the information and data that gets passed around within multicar teams.

In the end, it doesn't matter how good Martin Truex has been this season, his lack of quality equipment and funds will surely be his down fall come Chase time. I'm not going to say that he can't win races and he can't finish consistently, but he just can't seem to put a full race together so far this season, and that's what he needs to do if he wants to win his first Title.

Five Drivers Who Lost Their Final Chance At A Chase

By: Brian Thornsburg on 7/8/2015

Wrecks, wins and missed opportunities. That's the best way to describe Sunday’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday evening. While the those first two topics will certainly be at the forefront of fans conversations throughout the week, missed opportunities by non-Chase drivers should be a topic of conversation as well.

Sure, fans should be happy about NASCAR's resident son claiming victory in the summer's biggest race, and be concerned about the jaw dropping accident that sent Austin Dillon flying towards the catch fence, but what about the multitude of drivers that lost their biggest chance of punching their ticket into The Chase for The Sprint Cup?

One of those drivers who missed their best opportunity to make The Chase this season was, Tony Stewart. Stewart ran well in Sunday night's race and actually came away with a Top 15 finish at the end of the night. While this is all well and good, Stewart still sits 90 points outside of the final Chase spot and would need to gain an average of ten points in the last nine races to make The Chase for The Sprint Cup.

To be honest, Daytona was Stewart's best chance at a comeback and making the Chase. The three time champion has won at the track four times and has an average finish of 18th or better at the 2.5 mile Super Speedway. Stewart might have a chance at redemption at The Brickyard 400 later this month, but with his current performance and lack of confidence, a win would be nothing short of a miracle.

Another driver who missed their best chance of making The Chase is, Danica Patrick. The Stewart Haas Racing driver has her second best finish of her career at Daytona, finishing eight in the 2013 season. With the practice she has had at Super Speedways and the great restrictor plate record that Stewart Haas Racing has, there should have been no doubt that she could have ran away with the win on Sunday.

Instead of running away with the win, Patrick ran into trouble early in the race, getting caught up in a lap four accident at the back of the pack and ultimately finishing 35th. If Patrick didn't get caught up in someone else wreck in the early parts of Sunday's race, she could have definitely been a contender at the front of the pack.

Despite her bad finish, Danica sits in a little better situation then her car owner, Tony Stewart. Patrick only needs 55 points in 9 races to capture the last Chase spot before September. That seems like a tall task for someone who hasn’t had a Top 5 yet this season, especially considering that her only chance of a decent finish is at Watkins Glen, where she has an average finish of 20th.

Then there's Trevor Bayne. Or as Darrell Waltrip calls him, Cinderella Bayne. The young driver won the 2011 Daytona 500, but has done little since that monumental win. Despite not making waves since his win at Daytona, Bayne still sits in 27th place, 122 points out of the final Chase spot. This means that a win would probably be his last chance to make the postseason.

Bayne started fifth in Sunday's race after qualifying was rained out and fought hard throughout the night to stay up front. Unfortunately for the former 500 champion, that wasn’t enough to seal the deal and Bayne ended up in a 9th place finish and probably missed his last opportunity to make The Chase for The Sprint Cup.

Next, we have David Ragan. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver is a former winner at both Daytona and Talladega and has an average finish of 19th or better in 35 Restrictor Plate races. Experience wasn't enough to get the win however, as Ragan finished 12th and really wasn’t able to be a factor throughout the night.

With nine races to go before The Chase, Ragan sits 105 points out of the final transfer spot for The Chase and there is serious doubt that he will make up that huge deficit in time for the cutoff date. Sure, Ragan could get a lucky win at Indianapolis, where he captured a pole earlier in his career, but with the way that Hendrick and Stewart Haas Racing has been dominating this season, that’s really not that likely of a possibility.

Finally, there's Casey Mears. Some might not remember the days when he raced for Hendrick Motor Sports and won The Coke Zero 400, but that could have changed Sunday night at Daytona. Mears had some speed going into the weekend, posting the 15th best time in second practice and even running the main pack for much of the race.

With that being said, the opportunity to punch his ticket to The Chase was squandered with his 11th place finish in Sundays race. He now sits 63 points out of the final transfer spot of The Chase and has little chance of making The Chase, especially considering he hasn’t finished in The Top 5 one time this season.

While anything can happen in the world of Sprint Cup racing, and miracles have occurred in the 11th hour at Richmond International Raceway, all fans should be able to agree that these five drivers have really missed their last opportunity to make The Chase this year.

Dale Puts On A Clinic At Daytona

By: Brian Thornsburg on 7/7/2015

Dale Earnhardt Jr. put on a restrictor plate clinic Sunday night, leading 96 laps and capturing the checkered flag to win the second Coke Zero 400 of his career. The win was Earnhardt's second of the season and will also give him three extra bonus points when the standings are reset for The Chase for The Sprint Cup.

Jimmie Johnson led 35 laps and ended up finishing second, Denny Hamlin went for a wild ride across the line to collect third, Harvick retains the points lead easily with a fourth place finish and Kurt Busch rounds out The Top 5 in the fifth position. Other notable finishers in Sundays race are Jeff Gordon, who finished 6th in his final appearance at Daytona International Raceway and Trevor Bayne, who finished 9th.

"I had a lot of fun tonight" Earnhardt later told reporters in victory lane. “We have such great motors and good cars. We ran very fast. I had to block a lot, get a lot of pushes from everybody. I had to run real hard to win this race here. We got shuffled back a few times.

Earnhardt Jr. started on the pole Sunday evening and traded the lead with teammate, Jimmie Johnson throughout most of the race. Denny Hamlin was able to lead ten circuits around the 2.5 mile Super Speedway, but ultimately succumbed to a double team by Jimmie Johnson and Earnhardt Jr around 40 laps to go.

Jr. held on to the lead from there, surviving late race onslaughts from Johnson, Hamlin and other drivers, as he maneuvered between the multiple lines of the race track. Johnson and Hamlin both tried for one final over throw on Jr. during the final restart of the race, but Jr was able to effectively block and capture the checkered at Daytona International Speedway.

The win is Earnhardt’s fourth at Daytona International Speedway and also puts him one win ahead of his father, Dale Earnhardt Sr. at Daytona in point victories. This is also Earnhardt's first consecutive season with more than one win. His last one coming in 2003 and 2004, when he raced for his father at Dale Earnhardt Incorporated.

Not only should that stat speak volumes to where Earnhardt is currently at in his career, it should also speak volumes to his abilities to stay competitive come Chase time in September. While Earnhardt has only won on Restrictor Plate tracks this season, they should still give him great confidence when heading to other tracks as well.

Kyle Busch Must Still Faces Major Obstacles In Order To Make Chase

By: Brian Thornsburg on 6/29/2015

Don't call it a comeback. At least not yet anyway. While Kyle Busch is indeed in the win column after his win at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday afternoon, he still must finish 30th or better in point's standings before the cutoff date to be considered officially qualified for the Chase for The Sprint Cup.

What does he need to do to accomplish this you may ask? Well, after his win at Sonoma, he still sits about 136 points behind Cole Whitt, who sits 30th in the points right now. This means that to make The Chase in the final ten races, Busch will have to achieve an average finish of 13.6 or better. This is of course easier said than actually done.

One of the biggest obstacles in his way, is next week's night race at Daytona International Speedway. Busch's record at Daytona has been pretty hit or miss. In fact, The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has an average finish of 23.25 in his last two races at Daytona. Not to mention the fact that the last time he strapped into a car at Daytona, he ended up breaking his leg and shattering his foot.

It's not all doom and gloom for Busch at Daytona however, as he has managed to win The Coke Zero 400 on two separate occasions and has six Top 10's at the track. Even when he didn't finish in The Top 10, he still managed 11 Top 20 finishes in 20 races. That’s a pretty good record considering the feast or famine nature of restrictor plate races.

Pocono might be another problem for Busch, who has never won at The Tricky Triangle ever in his Sprint Cup Career. Not only that, he also has an average finish of 18.9 and only eight Top-ten's in 21 races at the track. He has had some success at the track however, finishing 9th in only his second race back from his injury at Daytona.

Then there's Michigan. A track that Busch has both tasted sweet victory and crushing defeat at. He did capture a win in the Irish Hill of Michigan during the 2011 season, but also only has six Top ten’s in 21 races at the track. He also only has one Top ten at the track since his win in 2011, meaning that Busch will have a steep hill to climb if wants a good finish in Michigan.

With all these obstacles in mind, it's not like Busch can't overcome the odds and pull off decent finishes at these tracks. Keep in mind, some of us never thought that he would even win a race this season, but he proved all of us wrong this weekend at Sonoma. Now, with ten races to go before The 2015 Chase, can he prove us wrong again?

Michigan Proves That NASCAR Needs Rule Change Come Chase Time

By: Brian Thornsburg on 6/15/2015

What if this had happened during The Chase? That has to be the question that Kevin Harvick and his team are asking themselves, after a flat tire forced Harvick to pit and eventually finish Sunday’s race in the 29th position.

Harvick not only got another win snatched away from him on Sunday, but also lost a sizeable about points to Martin Truex Jr, who now sits within 20 points of the defending champion. Sure , the points don’t really matter since Harvick is guaranteed a spot in this year’s Chase for The Sprint Cup, but what if this wasn't the regular season?

If something like this had happened to Harvick during The Chase, the defending Sprint Cup champion would probably have been on the brink of elimination from the championship entirely. He could of course always pull out a win before the next eliminations take place, but you would think NASCAR would want to reward constituency as much as they do winning a race.

While there isn't much point in revamping the regular season's point system, the example given above should be all the reason in the world to adjust the format for NASCAR's postseason. It just doesn't make any sense to have a driver finish constantly in two races, but be eliminated by a bad luck accident in the final race before eliminations take place.

It happened last year with Kyle Busch, who was almost guaranteed a spot in the next round of The Chase, before an untimely single car accident at Talladega eliminated him from The Chase entirely. The same can be said for Gordon, who was doing very well in the last years Chase, until Brad Keselowksi accidentally made contact with Gordon, causing him to cut a tire at Texas Motor speedway.

This caused Gordon to come into Phoenix with a sizable point deficit with little chance of advancing to the final round of the Chase. The four time champion did come within one point of making the final round, but was beaten by Ryan Newman, who was able to get passed Kyle Larson in the closing laps at Phoenix International Raceway. Gordon ended up being eliminated from The Chase, despite winning four races that season.

Examples like this should be reason enough to change the points system come chase time. It makes no sense for a driver to be racing 27 non Chase cars, all who could cost those drivers points towards their championship. If anything, we need to take Gordon's advice and change the points system to lessen the impact of accidents and bad luck during The Chase.

"I would say that the one thing that I thought about, and that's you have a separate points system just for the 16 (Chase drivers) and then for . . . the 12 and then the eight. I just think there's so many factors with all the other competitors out there that you should be racing those guys. You should be racing them in points, not necessarily racing them and all the other competitors out there. Gordon said after his elimination in last year's Chase."

While Gordon’s idea might sound a little drastic, it would bring a new and interesting angle to the chase. That way, if you have an unfortunate accident like Harvick did at Michigan, you only lose 16 points at the most. This should keep The Chase more competitive and give drivers a chance to rebound from a bad race or two.

If anything, the current point system leaves Harvick, who has two wins this year, a sitting duck if something like this were to happen come Chase time. If the points system in the chase can't be changed, then they need to seriously need to reward race winners in previous rounds in a different way. Maybe even by giving them a five or ten point advantage to start the next round.

This not only puts a driver in the next round of The Chase, but also gives them a little bit of a boost in case something goes wrong during the next three races of The Chase. I know this might sound like favoring certain drivers, but winning should mean more than just making The Chase, it should help you in the Chase as well.

Whether NASCAR makes this change, another change, or no change at all, I think we can all agree that this a problem that seriously takes away from the legitimacy of our sport. A championship is meant to be a tough thing to capture during your career, but it’s not supposed to be impossible. That's something that NASCAR needs to work on to keep the Chase interesting in the years to come.

What do you think of Gordon's idea for a new point’s format come Chase time? Do you think it would be a fair shake up to the current points system, or would it just give drivers too many chances to be able to rebound from a bad race? Let us know in the comments below!

Have NASCAR Fans Matured Since 2007

By: Brian Thornsburg on 6/1/2015

It's hard to believe that it was over eight years ago that Jeff Gordon got the historic 77th win of his career during a spring race at Talladega Superspeedway. The win of course came under less than ideal circumstances, an ill-timed caution, that would end the race after only one attempt at a green flag finish.

While many fans of the then, Nextel Cup Series, were looking to see The four time champion earn his 77th win in a last lap duel to the checkered flag with Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray, that still doesn’t excuse them throwing beer cans, cups and other forms of trash on the track while Gordon was in the middle of his celebration.

Then again, that might not have been the only reason for the harsh reaction by fans. Digging a little deeper, you will see that Earnhardt and Gordon had quite the rivalry throughout their careers. Sure, they were buddies off the track, but when it came time to race, both drivers had the same goal. Win at all costs.

Not only that, but both drivers represented a vastly different era of the sport we know as NASCAR. Dale Earnhardt was the intimidator. A man that had raced at local dirt tracks in his hometown of Kannapolis, North Carolina to feed his family, and of course win any race that he entered.

Gordon on the other hand was set to be a new face of the ever growing sport. A man that could attract younger fans with clean cut looks and winning ways on the race track. This of course created a chasm in NASCAR fan hood that would pit the handy man of yesteryear against the rising and driven youth of the future.

With that in mind, stats were most likely a main stay in arguments regarding who was the better driver. Gordon had Earnhardt beat with four Daytona 500 wins to Earnhardt’s one in 1998, but Earnhardt still had three more championships then that of the Rainbow Warrior. This of course put fans of the drivers in a virtual tie, until of course the subject of the most wins list arose.

This and many other factors could have contributed to the actions of many NASCAR fans that day at Talladega Superspeedway, but the reason doesn’t really matter anymore. What does matter, is how NASCAR fans will react now when Johnson eventually climbs over Earnhardt Senior on the all-time win list.

Will we let it define us as fans who can't be happy for what someone has accomplished in our beloved sport of Auto Racing? Or are we as fans capable of coming together to cherish a very special moment in our sports history. One that may not be topped for a very long time in the future.

After Sundays race at Dover International Raceway, Johnson is now a mere two wins away from tying Earnhardt for the 7th spot on the all-time win list. While that thought might be scary enough for Earnhardt fans and detractors of Hendrick Powerhouse, fans need to realize that Johnson is also very close to capturing another of Dale Earnhardt's records as well. In fact, it's a record he would have to share with both Earnhardt and Richard Petty, two of NASCAR’s biggest names in the 70's, 80's, and 90's.

Maybe fans will be more accepting when Johnson finally captures the 76th and 77th checkered flag of his historic career, especially since no real rivalry exists between Johnson fans and fans of the late great Dale Earnhardt.

Carl Edwards Caps Off Weekend With Victory In Coke 600

By: Brian Thornsburg on 5/25/2015

Cousin Carl Conquers Coke 600: Carl Edwards emerged from his car both dazed and confused. Dazed after a 600 mile marathon race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and confused as to how exactly he managed to win the race at all. He slowly climbed to the top of his #19 Toyota camry and faced the fans in the grandstands. The same fans who had just joined him for that 600 mile ride.

He quickly flashed a smile and gave the crowd what they came to see, his signature backflip that he performed after every race he won. In fact, this would be the 24th backflip of his Sprint Cup career. Not to mention the first one of the 2015. While all this was reason for Edwards to celebrate with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, one question still raced through his mind. Just how did he manage to win his first Coca-Cola 600?

Not that Edwards should even question his ability to win races, Quite the contrary in fact. Still, how does one go from slugging it out for a Top 5 finish, to driving away for the victory in a matter of just 20 laps? Edwards then ran across the field over to the grandstand, where he went to celebrate with the fans who had come out to see longest race of the season.

Still, how does one go from slugging it out for a Top-five finish, to driving away for the victory in a matter of just 20 laps? Well, it started with bad luck for Edward’s teammate, Denny Hamlin, who had a loose wheel and was forced to surrender the lead. This move would put Truex Jr in the lead, followed by Harvick and Busch.

Unfortunately for those three brave souls, strategy was not in their favor, and they eventually were also forced to pit for fuel and a few fresh Good Year Tires. With those three out of the way, it was Carl Edwards who piloted his Subway Toyota Camry to the lead.

While Edwards may have just won the fuel strategy battle, he had yet to win the war In fact, there were three other drivers, Gregg Biffle, Dale Jr and Matt Kenseth who had all saved fuel as well throughout the closing laps of the race. Now Edwards had two problems. 1. Save as much fuel as he can to win the race, 2, keep everyone else behind him in the process.

The second part didn’t come easy, as Greg Biffle was slowly moving in on Carl Edwards in the closing laps of the race. Like Edwards, he was also in search of his first win of The 2015 Sprint Cup Season. A win that would guarantee a spot in upcoming Chase this September.

Despite coming close to Biffle’s bumper on a couple of occasions, Biffle would ultimately lose fuel pressure in his #16 Toyota Camry and was forced to back off Edwards. This of course allowed Edwards to pull ahead and capture the flag at Charlotte.

"It's so cool to get this win—we've had such bad luck and we were the slowest of the (JGR cars) tonight, but we had (crew chief) Darian (Grubb) on the box. He made the right call, he put us in a position to win, and it worked. Edwards said during his victory lane interview, as he celebrated with his JGR crew members."

While Edwards was celebrating in victory lane, another driver stood by his Furniture Row Chevrolet ready to be interviewed by reports. The driver was disappointed that he wasn’t able to capitalize on his great performance throughout the race, but also a little annoyed that he had come up short for the second straight time in three weeks.

"We had a great car. Had a chance at it and it stinks to come up short like that on fuel mileage. I've never once in my whole career gained positions on a fuel mileage deal. I don't know what I have to do to catch a break on them deals. It is what it is. Just proud of my guys for what they brought--we will get one." Truex told reporters when asked about how it felt to have the win slip right out of his hands.

Sure, on the outside it may look like Truex is still hopeful about his chances to win a race and make The Chase in September, but you can also feel a sense of desperation in voice. One that shows Truex’s worry about getting a win in the next 13 races of the regular season. Like the rest of the year will be a failure if he can’t capture just one flag this season.

Another driver who didn’t seem too happy with his performance Sunday evening was Dale Earnhardt Jr. The man had spent much of the night working with his crew to make the car completive, even cracking the Top 5 with 120 laps to go in the race. Unfortunately for Jr. He would need a little luck to win the race. Something he ended up not having, as both Biffle and Edwards made it to the finish line without running out of gas.

Jr. talked about his disappointment during his interview with Fox Sports, stating, "We just tried to go for the win there. I liked the gamble. We had a pretty good car. A little disappointed, those guys got a little more speed than us."

With Charlotte now behind them, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr. , Dale Jr and the rest of The Sprint Cup Series will now turn their attention to the Monster mile, were 43 cars will do battle in The Granite State next Sunday on Fox

Top 5 Solid Chase Picks For 2015

By: Brian Thornsburg on 5/21/2015

With only 14 races to go before the Chase cutoff in September, Draft Utopia counts down their Top 5 ROCK SOLID PICKS to make the Chase in 2015.

5. Kyle Larson:Larson may have hit a bit of a sophomore slump in 2015, but that doesn’t mean he can’t catch up before Chase time in The Fall. His best chance at doing this, will be at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where the young driver has two Top 5 finishes in two races at The Granite State. He also has a chance to get his first win and a spot in The Chase at Watkins Glen, a track he captured a Top 5 at in his rookie season. As long as Larson stays in The top 25 in points, he will eventually get the win and make The Chase.

4. Martin Truex Jr: Despite only managing five Top-Ten’s and one Top-Five in 2025, Truex Jr will finally put that behind him and make The Chase for the first time since 2012. He already has Ten Top-ten’s this season, sits second in season points and has come close to claiming victory twice this! If all these stats don’t scream Chase Contender to you, then I don’t think anything will. Especially with Five Top-Ten’s in five races that will be in The Chase this year!

3. Jeff Gordon: How can this man not make The Chase in his final season as a Sprint Cup Driver? He already pulled three wins before The Chase last season, and those were all after The Coca Cola 600 a year ago. Like Stewart, Gordon’s lucky Chase grabbing win will come late in the season, possibly at Daytona, where he usually runs well and has three Daytona 500 wins. Another possibility is Watkins Glen and Sonoma, where the former Sprint Cup Champion has eight wins at those two tracks.

2. Jamie McMurrray: I don’t feel like I can make a list of iron clad chase picks without giving this Chip Ganassi Racing driver a nod. The former Daytona 500 Champion has four Top-Ten’s this season, sits ninth and points and has finished on the led lap in 9 of the 11 races this year. There is no doubt in my mind that he could pull a surprise finish in the next 14 races of the season, especially if they come at a restrictor plate track or a fuel mileage race.

1. Ryan Newman: Ryan Newman has become the ghost of The Sprint Cup Series, especially after managing to finish in the final four without a single win in the 2014 season. Unlike the other drivers on this list, I doubt he will capture a win before The Chase deadline in September. With that being said, I believe his average finish is strong enough to place 15th or 16th position come Chase time. Seven Top-Ten’s, nine Lead lap finishes, and an average finish of 11.9 make him a very solid pick to make the postseason.

3 Laps Of Fanmail About The All Star Race

By: Brian Thornsburg on 5/17/2015

While the action on the track may have been lackluster, the NASCAR comment section was on fire with angry and crazy comments about Saturday’s All Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. From wanting more competitive racing, to a Denny Hamlin conspiracy, here are the Top 5 comments about The All Star Race. Sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Helen joseph: Please NASCAR get these cars where it’s a competitive field. Happy Denny won but geez this single file is getting so old. Engine change making it a level field was a failure.

I really agree with Helen here. The racing on Saturday was nothing special and felt tiresome to watch after a while. There was some interest in the final ten lap shootout, but only because it looked like Hamlin and Harvick would be battling it out for the win, especially with Harvick closing in on the final laps of the race.

I’m not saying that there should have been more accidents during the race, I just feel that more could have been done to the cars to make them competitive with each other. The restarts were a definite highlight of the race, but as the laps quickly wound down in each segment, boredom slowly started to seep in. NASCAR fans deserve better than the racing they got tonight, and I hope they get it in the future.

Harry Risher: Denny & Brad came off pit road side by side ---How could the NAZICAR Big Bosses in the "Control Box" penalize one and not the other???? Too much Control Box BS and Politics---Hell let them RACE!!

I also feel that NASCAR screwed Brad Keselowski over here. If you look at the tape you can clearly see that Hamlin and Keseloski made to the pit road exit at about the same time. With that being said, it did look like Keselowski sped out of his pit box a little bit quicker the Denny did, ultimately resulting in Keselowski’s penalty.

While pit road safety should always be a concern for NASCAR officials, I feel like NASCAR penalized Keselowski in the wrong way. If you look at the video, you see that no crew members were anywhere near Keselowski at the time, making the penalty seem pointless, especially with how well Keselowski ran in the All-Star race Sunday night. I’m not saying that NASCAR shouldn’t have penalized him for his actions, but I do think the penalty should have been a little less severe given the circumstances.

I also agree with Harry’s “Let the Race” statement. So many drivers are penalized in the closing laps of races, and are forced to go to the back of the line, despite dominating the field all day. NASCAR shouldn’t place so much emphasis on these penalties, and maybe even just start fining them money instead. That way, it doesn’t effect the result of the race.

Cheyenne Moon: Congrats to the Denny Fans and his team Love the Q's and format........The segments were just right.......not as exciting as the trucks this time but very entertaining!

I wonder if Cheyenne and I were watching the same race on Saturday night. Yes, congratulations to Hamlin for winning The All-star race, but it really wasn’t an All-star race to begin with. The racing was a single file bore fest, the racing was only interesting during restarts, and the same people stayed up front the entire night.

There’s no denying that The All Star race is flawed in a lot of ways, but as a NASCAR fan, you can only hope that things will get better as time goes on. Maybe even host the race somewhere else like Talladega, Daytona, or even Bristol!

Why Jr's Win At Talladega Means Nothing In Terms Of Championship

Posted By: Brian Thornsburg on 5/6/2015

Is it really time to celebrate? Sure, Dale Earnhardt Jr may have captured his first win of the 2015 season and virtually guaranteed himself a spot in The Chase for The Sprint Cup, but what good will any of that do NASCAR’s golden boy, if he struggles every week to have a competitive car?

Now, I’m not saying Jr, who has made The Chase for the fifth year in a row now, isn’t capable of making a deep run in NASCAR’S version of the playoffs, I just think he there is a greater chance of him struggling to stay completive with other drivers in The Chase.

For those that think this will be no problem for June bug come September, just look at his track record compared to other drivers so far this season. Jr is currently the only driver in the Top Five in points with a DNF and also is the only driver in the Top five to have six or fewer Top Ten finishes in ten races this season.

Going even further into statistics, Dale Jr. has only led the fourth most amount of laps of anyone in The Top-five in points this season. Kevin Harvick leads the charge with 953 lap’s led, followed by Joey Logano with 418 laps led. Jr has only led 104 laps this season, 67 of those laps led Sunday at Talledega Super Speedway.

If we compare Jr to other drivers who have won races in the 2015 season, we see that jr is dead last in the category of laps led out of the eight winners this season. The only driver who comes closest to Jr’s 104 laps led this season, is Matt Kenseth, with 112 laps led. While leading the race of course isn’t everything, this is a huge factor that is not in Jr’s favor right now.

With that in mind, let’s look at Earnhardt’s consistency compared to other winners in the 2015 season. Besides Brad Keselowski, Jr is the only other winner to suffer a DNF this season, when he got caught up in a wreck halfway through the spring race at Phoenix and finished 43rd. He then went on to finish 36th two weeks later at Martinsville.

While some fans might point to Jr’s six Top-ten finishes this season as proof of being able to keep up with his fellow competitors this year, one has to remember that he there are only three winners with less than six top-ten’s this season. Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch.

Again, this isn’t the defining factor that prevents Jr from making a deep Chase run this season, but it is a daunting one nonetheless. How can Jr. be expected to compete with other drivers in the postseason, if he can’t even keep up with them on a consistent basis in the regular season? Yes, Jr has followed up his 2014 campaign nicely so far, but the season hasn’t come without a few hiccups for little E.

The final stat I want to share, is the average finish for the eight winners this season, at tracks that will also be in The Chase come September This means I will be averaging out the eight drivers three finishes at Phoenix, Martinsville and last Sunday at Talladega.

Of the eight drivers, it is no surprise that Kevin Harvick take the top spot, with a average finish of 5.6. He is then followed by Brad Keselowski, with an average finish of tenth so far in Chase races. Third is Denny Hamlin, Fourth is Kurt Busch, fifth is Joey Logano, sixth is Matt Kenseth, seventh is Jimmie Johnson, and dead last is Dale Earnhardt Jr., with an average finish of 26.6 this season in Chase races. Just for the record, that is a total of 10.6 that separates Jr from his teammate, Jimmie Johnson on this list. He is almost behind Harvick by a full 25 points as well.

Basically, if Jr wants a hope at having a deep run in the playoffs this season, he needs to minimize his loses and maximize his winnings. He needs to finish at Chicagoland (a place where he has won before), New Hampshire and Dover without incident and then needs to go on and find a way to win The race at Talledega. From there, Jr will only need a win at Martinsville or Phoenix, which he has done before, to guarantee him a spot in Championships weekend.

While the most dedicated of Jr will fans will probably remain hopeful of something like this taking place come this fall, I will be quietly sitting back and watching Jr still struggling to keep up with the rest of the Chase field, despite being tricked out in Hendrick Motorsports Equipment.

Kurt Busch Should Be Banned From The Chase

By Brian Thornsburg on 4/27/2015

It’s not every day you see something like this happen in the world of professional sports. Yes, we do see a lot of second chances given to those sports heroes who have done horrible things during their time off the playing field, but very seldom do we see a sports hero be accused of doing something so sinister still manage to reach this level of redemption in their careers.

Michael Vick, Ben Rothlisberger and Tiger Woods come to mind as players who have all faced massive controversy on the field, but still managed to stay successful and beloved by their fan base. Kurt Busch can now be added to that list, after pulling ahead on the final restart of the race and holding of his teammate, Kevin Harvick to win The Toyota Owners 400.

"I have this opportunity because of Gene Haas and everybody that's a part of our family at Stewart-Haas. It's an unbelievable feeling when you pull deep from within, you go through troubles and you know when you're accused of something and things go sideways. Your personal life doesn't need to affect your business life and I'm here in Victory Lane. It feels great to do it at Richmond." Busch said about his team’s tremendous effort throughout the past few weeks.

The defending Sprint Cup Champion tried everything in his power to catch up to his teammate, Kurt Bush, during the final 15 laps of Sundays race, unfortunately for him, Busch could not be chased down and ultimately took the checkered flag, winning is first race in over a year in the process.

The win is made even sweeter by the fact that he was only reinstated by NASCAR a few months ago, after being accused of a domestic dispute with his then girlfriend. Sufficient evidence was never found to support the ex-girlfriends claims, causing the courts to throw out the case. Busch was later reinstated by NASCAR and now finds himself locked into The Chase for The Sprint Cup in September.

That’s what kind of makes this story interesting in a way. How can NASCAR claim that they have no tolerance for domestic abuse, like they did during a press conference when Busch’s suspension was first announced, but allow a driver that was accused of the vicious crime as a contender for their top prize? As a fan of the sport and Kurt Busch, I understand the claims by the girlfriend were found to be baseless and lacking in evidence, but what about those people outside of our little sports world that will look at this occurrence and think that we are glorifying an abuser?

Despite my belief that Busch is completely innocent of his accused crime, he should not take part in this year’s Chase for The Sprint Cup. Doing so will bring NASCAR backlash for glorifying a man, who is accused of beating a woman in his mobile home. Just imagine what the world would think of a sport that allowed a redemption such as this to take place!

NASCAR can’t afford to make a publicity move like this. It’s no secret that NASCAR is a dying sport, with attendance, viewership, sponsorship and the numbers of many other things slowly slipping lower and lower. One wrong move. One story bad enough, that it causes the outside world to raise their fist in anger at us, will be the end of the good old boys sport known as NASCAR.

Matt Kenseth Wins Food City 400

By: Brian Thornsburg on 4/20/2015

Matt Kenseth survived a four hour rain delay, 3 cautions in the final 30 laps and a hard charging Jimmie Johnson, to win The Food City 500 In Support of Steve Burns and Cancer at Bristol Motor Speedway. The win the 32nd of Kenseth’s career and virtually clinches him a spot in The Chase for The Sprint Cup.

The win also snaps a 51 race winning streak spanning back to the 2013 season, where Kenseth won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Kenseth now holds 4 wins at Bristol, the most he has ever had at any track on The Sprint Cup circuit. This is also Joe Gibbs Racing’s second win of the 2015 season.

The field was under caution for a massive pileup involving Carl Edwards and Kurt Bucsh, when rain started to pour into the Bristol Bull ring on lap 505. Many fans and drivers probably thought NASCAR would call it a day at this point, but instead decided to clean up the track one more time and give fans a two lap shootout for braving the rain.

Johnson, who was involved in a wreck earlier in the race, finished second. Jeff Gordon came home third, Ricky Stenhouse Jr survived to finish fourth, and Ryan Newman rounded out The Top-five in the 5th position. Kevin Harvick managed to lead 184 laps in Sunday’s race, but got caught in an incident between David Ragan and Jimmie Johnson, effectively ending any chance that Harvick had of being competitive for the rest of the race.

It feels good to be back here. Really, honestly, it does, it wears on you a little bit. We had such a good 2013 (seven victories), we came a little short of the ultimate prize there, but we had such a great season, and last year there were some races we had some chances to win and just things wouldn't line up for us. Kenseth said when asked about returning to victory lane for the first time since 2013.

Despite finishing outside The Top-30 Harvick maintains the top spot over Joey Logano by 30 points. Martin Truex jr stays third, Johnson climbed to fourth place and Brad Keselowski fell to the fifth spot. Danica Patrick now finds herself in 13th place thanks to two consecutive Top 10 finishes this season. Matt Kenseth now sits in the eight position with his win at Bristol on Sunday.

Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano’s day ended early, after Logano ran into Keselowski’s bumper on lap 22 of the race. The two cars hurtled towards the pit lane wall, before coming to rest at the exit of pit road. The caution was made longer when rain begin to fall, causing a four hour delay in the race.

The Sprint Cup Series heads to Richmond Virginia next week for The Toyota Owners 400. The race will be Saturday night on Fox. Stay tuned for in depth predictions and analysis of next week’s race.

Can Anyone Hang With Harvick This Season: The Standings So Far

By: Brian Thornsburg on 4/18/2015

Can anyone hang with Happy Harvick in The Sprint Cup Series?

The answer to that question seems to be no, as the defending Sprint Cup Champion has two wins, has completed every lap this season, and hasn’t even finished outside The top-ten this season. This stats alone should be more than enough to assure fans that Harvick will make a deep run in the playoffs and even maybe repeat as Sprint Cup Champion in 2015.

The only other drivers with all top ten finishes this season, are Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. Trux Jr’s turnaround from last season is not only surprising, but a testament to the fact that any driver can win any given Sunday. Hopefully Truex will be able to continue his momentous 2015 run and claim a space in The Chase with a win before the playoff cutoff. If he does, it will be his first playoff appearance since leaving MWR in 2013.

Martin Truex Jr. isn’t the only surprise contender this year, Kasey Kahn, Aric Armirolla, David Ragan and Jamie McMurray are solidly sitting in the Top-15 this season. Besides Jamie McMurray, these drivers have also managed to not receive a DNF this season. Kasey Kahne seems to be the strongest out of these four drivers, especially being the only one to win a race last year, and having Hendrick horsepower under his hood.

Brad Keselowski may not have seven Top-ten finishes, but he does have six Top-ten’s, three Top-fives and one win so far this season. The 2012 Sprint Cup Champion has also remained out of trouble this season, making it very likely that he can may a strong run throughout the season, without being taken out by an upset driver. Then again, with 19 races to go before The Chase, there’s still time for Keselowski to get into trouble.

Denny Hamlin quietly sits eighth in the standings, 101 points out of first place. While Hamlin is the highest JGR driver in the point standing, he also has four finishes outside of The Top-ten in seven races. Three of the finishes being 20th or worse, and two of the finishes being 30th or worse. He does have one win this season at Martinsville, but Hamlin needs to focus on consistency and finding speed if he wants to capitalize on his Chase berth.

As for Joey Logano, he remains the only driver who has really been able to keep pace with Harvick this season. Logano won his first Daytona 500 in February and has followed that win up with four Top-five’s in seven races and no DNF’s. Logano remains 26 points behind Harvick, but may be able to knock off a few points if he can finish strong at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend in the Food City 500.

Jimmie Johnson remains the only driver to match Harvick in the win column this season, with a win at both Atlanta and Texas Motor Speedway. Despite these two marks in the win column, Johnson has finished outside The Top 10 in three races this season, two of those finishes being outside The Top-35 as well. Johnson sits 6th in point standings, 90 points behind Harvick. If Johnson wants a shot at the title in November, consistency is key.

Then of course, there’s Dale Earnhardt jr. Last season he wowed fans with his dominance in The Daytona 550 and followed that up with two straight Top-two finishes. This season, Jr has two finishes outside the top ten, both being 35th or worse, and hasn’t won a race yet. He won three last year (Pocono twice and Daytona) His five Top-five finishes this season are unfortunately more of a result of good strategy by Greg Ives, then actually having a strong car all day. Earnhardt Jr really needs a speed boost if he has any hope of keeping up with the likes of Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick.

So there’s how the standing look so far this season. Maybe someone will be able to catch up to Kevin Harvick before The Chase, or maybe the other drivers are just waiting until The Chase to use their secret weapons. Whatever the reason, the drivers of The Sprint Cup Series might want to catch up, because right now Harvick is just making it look too easy.

Jimmie Johnson Powers Past Harvick To Win Commanders 400

By Brian Thornsburg on 4/12/2015

Jimmie Johnson powered past Jamie McMurray and Kevin Harvick on the final restart of the race, before pulling away from the field and winning The Duck Commanders 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. The win was Johnson’s second this season, and the 62nd of his career.

The win also puts Johnson five wins away from passing Dale Earnhardt on the Sprint Cup Series all time win list, and also ties Johnson with Kevin Harvick for most wins this season, although Jimmie Johnson still sits 90 points behind the defending Sprint Cup Series Champion Harvick in the standings.

Kevin Harvick was able to slide by Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the second spot, Dale Earnhardt Jr. recovered from his bad finish at Martinsville Motor Speedway to finish third, Joey Logano finished fourth, and Brad Keselowski rounded out The Top 5 in the fifth position.

Kevin Harvick keeps the points lead with two wins and 306 points, Joey Logano is second in points, 26 points behind Harivick. Martin Truex Jr. takes third position, Brad Keselowski fourth and Kasey Kahne remains the only Hendrick in the Top 5 in the fifth position.

Despite not leading any laps during Sundays Duck Commander 400 at Texas, Dale Jr. remained in the Top 10 for most of the day and even was locked in a vicious battle with Kevin Harvick for the second spot at the end of the race. Jr won his first Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway in 2000, he has since not returned to victory Lane.

Harvick’s Top-two streak might have been snapped last week at Martinsville with an eight place finish, but that didn’t stop Harvick from trying to chase down Jimmie Johnson in the closing laps of the race and get his third win of the season. Unfortunately for the man they call “Freaky Fast” he got up into the fence with three laps to go, effectively handing Johnson the win.

When asked if Kevin Harvick was disappointed about his second place finish in Sunday’s Duck Commander 400, he had this to say to reporters” "I'm not disappointed at all, racing for wins is what we're here to do. Nothing at all to hang your head about."

Harvick might not have anything to hang his head about, but his teammate, Kurt Busch sure does. The Nevada native started on The Pole and led 46 laps, before falling back in the pack and eventually finishing 14th, his second finish outside The Top 10 since his return from his suspension for alleged domestic abuse.

The Sprint Cup Series heads to The Bristol “Bull Ring” for The Food City 500 in Support Of Jeff Hammond. Greg Biffle is the most consistent veteran in the field at Bristol Motor Speedway, averaging a finish of 11th or better in 21 races at the track. Kurt Busch may be able to capture his first win of the season next week at Bristol. He already has five wins at the track and 15 Top 10 finishes in 28 races.

Finally, keep an eye out for drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jeff Gordon next week at Bristol. The two drivers combine for six wins at The Bull Ring and both have a average finish of 13th or better at the track. The Food City 500 will be live next Sunday at 1pm Eastern on Fox. Please check your local listings for more information.

Hamlin Conquers The PaperClip

By Brian Thornsburg on 3/29/2015

Despite some tense moments in the final laps of the race, Denny Hamlin held off a late race charge by Brad Keselowski to win at Martinsville Motor Speedway. The win is the 24th of Hamlin’s career and his first win of the 2015 season.

"We just weren't going to be denied today," Hamlin said after the race. The Virginia native started the race in the 15th position and took the lead from his teammate with 27 laps to go. Hamlin led 91 laps throughout the race on Sunday, his most laps led all season.

Not only is this Hamlin’s fifth with at the paperclip, this was also Toyota’s first win since the spring race at Talladega last year. The wins guarantees Hamlin a spot in The Chase for The Sprint Cup in the fall and also moves Hamlin up to eight place in the point standings, 62 laps behind the leader.

“Just great race cars, part of a great organization that gives me great cars that are able to do it. Hats off to Brad. He had an option, and he took the latter, so I thank him for that.” Hamlin said regarding his late race battle with Keselowski for the lead. Keselowski was able to get to Hamlin’s bumper in the final turn, but was unable to capitalize on the opportunity.

Regan Smith took the ball and ran with it on Sunday, as he was asked to fill in for Kyle Larson, after he fainted during an autograph sessions on Saturday. Larson was taken to a local hospital, before he was transferred to a Charlotte hospital to undergo tests. Regan took the #42 Chevrolet and piloted it to an impressive 16th place finish.

Today was a great day for Danica Patrick, who finished 7th in Sundays race at Martinsville. Her best finish since finishing 6th at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2014. This finish is also a promising sign for Patrick, since she finished ahead of all of her Stewart Haas Racing teammates.

It was an up-and-down day – I should say it was a down and then up day is really what it was – it was a rough start,” Patrick said. We had that long run where we stayed out and the car just wasn’t right to make that kind of gamble and we paid the price. But it also taught us a lesson to not do that if the car isn’t right.”

Brad Keseowski finished in second, Joey Logano finished third, Matt Kenseth finished fourth and David Regan rounded out The Top-five. Danica Patrick almost tied her best finish ever in The Sprint Cup Series with a seventh place finish, and Kevin Harvick’s streak of Top-two finishes is over, after suffering an eight place finish at The Paper clip.

Things were going great for Carl Edwards, who led 13 laps in Sunday’s race, before bringing out the caution for a lost tire on lap 438. Despite a great car, Edwards was unable to recover from his late race spin and finished in 16th place. Edwards has not finished in The Top-ten since coming to JGR at the beginning of the 2015 season.

Jeff Gordon held the lead for 21 laps before falling victim to a speeding penalty and had to start in the back of the pack for the final restart of the race. Gordon restarted in 22nd with 35 laps to go, but dug his way into the Top-ten to finish ninth in Sundays race. Gordon is still without a Top-five finish this season. His best finish was 9th at Phoenix.

Tony Stewart led eight laps in Sunday’s race when the leaders pitted for new tires, but he lost the lead a few laps later and fell all the way to 20th place. This finish continues his string of finishes outside The Top-ten. Stewart’s last Top-ten finish came last year at the fall Martinsville race, where he finished fourth.

Dale Earnhardt Jr didn’t have a great day either, with a bad vibration breaking six shifters in the car. Jr’s troubles continued on lap 228, when contact with Paul Menard sent Jr. to the garage. Earnhardt Jr returned to the track 47 laps down and missing just about the whole front end of his car. He finally finished in 36th position.

The Sprint Cup Series returns to action in two weeks at Texas for The Duck Commander 500. This will the first night race of the season. Matt Kenseth has the best average at Texas Motor Speedway, finishing first on two occasions. Another great choice for Saturday’s race at Texas, is Jimmie Johnson, who has four wins at TMS. Look for Hendrick to reestablish dominance in two weeks at Texas.

If you’re looking for a great pick for The Duck Commander 500, look no further then Tony Stewart. Smoke has two wins in The Lone Star state and has an average finish of 12.8 at the track. With many of TMS’s races coming down to fuel mileage and track position, expect Stewart to capitalize on any opportunity he’s given at Texas Motor Speedway.

Keselowski Steals One At Fontana

By Brian Thornsburg on 3/21/2015

Where the hell did he come from? That’s what fans and drivers alike had to be thinking during the closing laps of The Auto Club 400, as Brad Keselowski grabbed the lead from Kurt Busch and went on to win his first race of the season.

Despite slipping back to third on the restart Harvick finished second, Kurt Busch fell to third, Paul Menard finished fourth and Ryan Newman finished the race in fifth. Harvick’s second place finish on Sunday increases his streak to eight Top-two finishes, spanning back to the 2014 season. Harvick wrestled second place away from teammate, Kurt Busch at the start finish line.

Keselowski’s win on Sunday is the 17th of his career, and the first win of his career at Auto Club Speedway. The win also virtually guarantees Keselowski a spot in 2015 Chase for The Sprint Cup. Before this race, Keselowski’s best finish at California was 18th in 2012. The same year he won his first Sprint Cup title.

While this is Keselowski’s first win of the year, and his first victory since Talledega last season, this is also Keselowski’s fourth straight Top-ten finish this season. His only finish outside the Top-ten, came when he blew an engine in the season opener at Daytona International Raceway.

"I knew [Harvick] and [Busch] had been the class of the weekend and deserved to win on speed," Keselowski said after climbing out of his Miller Lite Ford in Victory lane to celebrate with his Penske team. "Maybe we kind of stole one today."

Kurt Busch, who led started on the pole and led 65 laps in Sunday’s race, was successfully holding off Kevin Harvick, when the caution flag waved for debris on the racing surface. Harvick and Busch both took tire during the caution, giving the lead to Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. That didn’t last long though, as Busch forced the issue, going three-wide on the restart, and bringing Kevin Harvick right along with him.

It looked like The Stewart Haas teammates were destined to battle it out for the win, until Kyle Larson got into the wall, causing his rear bumper to go airborne and bring out yet another caution in the final laps of the race. While many fans thought the final GWC would come down to Stewart and Busch, Keselowski stole the show on fresh tires and got passed Busch for the win.

"We just got hung out on the yellows at the end. That last restart, I just didn't get the job done. Brad outmuscled us on four tires." Busch said after the race. Despite coming up short two weeks in a row, Busch has to be happy about two straight Top-five finishes since his return to the sport at Phoenix International Raceway.

"I hate that [Busch] wasn't able to hold on for the win there," Harvick said. "I would have loved to see those guys get their first win." Harvick was able to keep his string of top two finishes alive by passing his teammate on the final turn of the race, when Busch got into the wall while trying to chase down Keselowski for the win.

Looking at the point standings now, Harvick continues to lead with two wins and a 28 point lead over second place driver, Joey Logano. Martin Truex Jr. remains third, despite not finishing in The Top-ten at Auto Club Speedway. Dale Jr gained two spots in the points, after finishing sixth in Sunday’s Auto Club 400, and Brad Keselowski rounds out The Top-five with his win on Sunday.

The Sprint Cup Series heads to Martinsville Motor Speedway next week, where 43 drivers will do battle at the paperclip for a chance to win a Grandfather clock. Last year’s winner was Kurt Busch, who got his first win in three years at the track. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are both tied with eight wins at the track, making them both favorites for next Sunday’s race on Fox Sports One.

Hamlin is third on the all-time active winners list, with three wins at the short track. Martinsville is probably his best chance at rebounding after suffering a pit road penalty for a out of control tire on Sunday. Stewart has a chance to turn his season around as well, with Martinsville being one of his best tracks during his career. Smoke has 16 Top-ten finishes and one win in 32 races at the track.

As for Harvick’s streak of Top-two finishes, that may be in jeopardy on Sunday as well, with Harvick only capturing three Top-ten’s at the track in his career. On the flip side, Harvick did win at Martinsville in 2011, and finished in The Top-ten during last year’s spring race. Harvick will certainly have to dig deep next week to keep the streak alive though. As for The Title, It seems that its Stewart Haas racing’s to lose.

Making It Look Easy Kevin Harvick Wins In Phoenix

By Brian Thornsburg on 3/16/2015

Making it look easy.

That seems to be the mantra for Kevin Harvick and his team, as the defending Sprint Cup champion led 224 laps and held off a late race charge by Jamie McMurray to pick up the win at Phoenix Motor Speedway.

Harvick sung his teams praises in victory lane stating, "The bond between this team is really special. Rodney Childers (crew chief) and myself and the engineers. Everybody gets along so good, it's just -- it's almost scary, how well things are going. And you don't want to talk about it too much because you want it to keep going. But just really proud and love these guys."

Jamie McMurray came home second, Ryan Newman finished third, Kasey Kahne finished fourth, and Kurt Busch managed a fifth place finish in his first race since his suspension for allegations of domestic abuse. Busch spent most of the day running second, but made the choice to pit for fresh tires in the final 15 laps of the race.

Harvick, who started on the pole for the Campingworld.com 400, virtually guaranteed his place in the 2015 Chase for The Sprint Cup with his win on Sunday. He also now has a record of seven straight Top-two finishes, spanning back to the 2014 season. The last driver to accomplish this amazing feat, was Richard Petty, who strung together 11 consecutive Top-two finishes during the 1975 season.

Looking back at the 1975 season, Petty won the championship that year, with 13 wins, 24 Top-Ten finishes, and a final point’s lead of over 700. While a point lead like that is impossible with NASCAR’s new championship format, the fact that Petty won the championship that year has to be a promising sign for Harvick, who is chasing the second consecutive championship of his career.

While second place finisher, Jamie McMurray, was happy about his Top-five finish Sunday afternoon, he was still regretful that he wasn’t able to get around Harvick for the victory at Phoenix. That was a fun battle with Kevin. Those are the kind that you wish you could do over again. Matt McCall (crew chief) made a really good decision at the end to stay out (on old tires) and got us on the front row.

Tony Stewart probably wishes he could do Sunday’s race all over again also, as he finished the race in 39 place, after spinning out in the final 25 laps of the race. The poor finish gives Stewart his third straight finish of 30th or worse this season, and puts Stewart 34th in points.

It's absolutely heartbreaking," SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli said. "For them to come out of here further behind where they went in, it's disheartening. But everybody knows tough things don't come easy. They are going to have to work hard, stay positive and try to turn it around one bite at a time."

Dale Jr had a heartbreaking day as well, finishing 43rd, after cutting a tire and hitting the wall hard on lap 179. The finish ends Jr’s steak of three consecutive top-five finishes this season. The bad day also puts Jr back four positions in the points, 58 points behind the leader.

The Sprint Cup Series heads to Auto Club Speedway next week for, “The Auto Club 400” on Fox. Jimmie Johnson looks to be the favorite, with five wins, and 14 Top-five’s in 20 races at the track. Kurt Busch could play spoiler for Johnson, especially with 11 Top-ten’s at Auto Club Speedway, and his first Top-ten of 2015 season.

Kevin Harvick Lucky In Vegas

By Brian Thornsburg on 3/9/2015

Kevin Harvick held off a bad vibration and a charging Martin Truex jr in the closing laps of the Kobalt 400, to capture his first checkered flag at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and his first win of the 2015 season.

"It got to be a handful there at the end. For whatever reason we got really, really loose the last run. Tires started vibrating and we were just kind of hanging on. Glad the race is over at that particular point for our own good.” Harvick said after the race.

The win didn’t come easy for the defending Sprint Cup Champion, who radioed his crew about a bad vibration in the car in the final laps of Sunday’s race at Las Vegas. Luckily, his margin of 1.6 seconds over second place driver, Martin Truex Jr., was enough to get him the win on Sunday.

An ecstatic Kevin Harvick talked about his first win of the season once he got his Freaky Fast, Jimmy Johns Chevrolet into Victory Lane, while nursing a shredded tire from burnout celebrations. It’s so cool to win here in Las Vegas, and to start this West Coast swing off this way is pretty awesome. Just to be in front of all these fans I’ve raced in front of since about the mid-‘90s… it’s pretty special to win here."

Harvick also talked about what it meant to be a virtual lock for the Sprint Cup Chase for the second straight year in a row,” It feels pretty good. I'm pretty excited about it. This whole Chase thing, there is a lot of strategy to get in to it. The best strategy is to go out and win races."

Martin Truex Jr. gained ground in the closing laps of the race, but had to settle for second. Ryan Newman came home third, Dale Earnhardt Jr captured his third Top-Five of the season, finishing fourth, and Denny Hamlin finished fifth.

AJ Allmendinger got his best finish of the season, with a sixth place finish at Vegas. Brad Keselowski overcame a pit road penalty, for a runaway tire to finish seventh. Kyle Larson finished eight, Matt Kenseth finished ninth, and the defending Daytona 500 Champion finished tenth, after leading the first 47 laps of the race.

Martin Truex Jr, who is having the best start to a season in his entire career, talked about finishing second to Kevin Harvick and what was going through his mind while trying to chase down the defending Sprint Cup Champion “I really thought he was just playing with us, taking it easy because he knew he had a big gap. They never said anything to me about him thinking he had any issues or anything else."

The Sprint Cup Series heads to Phoenix International Raceway next week, for the Camping World.com, where Harvick has won four of the last six races at. Can Harvick make it two in a row, or will we have a fourth straight different winner in the 2015 season?

Jimmie Johnson Back On Top

By Brian Thornsburg on 3/2/2015

Dale Jr fought valiantly on the final restart of the race, even pulling within inches of the lead in the outside lane, but it was Jimmie Johnson who ran away from the field in the closing laps of The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 to capture his first checkered flag of the year!

The win gave Johnson 71 in his 13 year career in The Sprint Cup Series, and his fourth win ever at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In victory lane, Johnson was appreciative of the work his team put into the car all weekend, stating, “Just very, very thankful. They (the team) surprised me today. We weren't that good and they really dug deep and figured out what I needed in this race car and gave me an awesome Lowe's Chevrolet."

Kevin Harvick pulled ahead of Dale Jr in the final six laps of the race to finish second, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third, Daytona 500 winner, Joey Logano finished fourth, and Matt Kenseth rounded out The Top-ten in fifth.

The win didn’t come easy for the six time Sprint Cup Champion, who was not allowed to make a qualifying run on Friday, due to his team not getting through pre-qualifying inspection in time. Johnson ended up starting 37th and didn’t grab the lead until lap 198, when he passed Kevin Harvick for the top spot.

Joey Logano led 84 of the first 87 laps, before Harvick took the lead on lap 88. Like Johnson, Harvick also failed to make it through inspection on Friday, and started in the back of the pack. Logano dropped back to fifth after struggling to get out of his pit box during a pit stop, and ran around the Top-three for the rest of the day.

The race was red flagged with 23 laps to go, when Biffle got loose on a restart and got into Cole Whitt, which started a chain reaction. Bowyer tried to slow down to avoid the accident, but he got tapped from behind by Stenhouse, putting both of them in the wall. Stewart, Larson, Smith and Nemecheck all got caught up in the accident as well.

Jeff Gordon’s day wasn’t without incident either, as he struggled to stay in The Top-Ten all afternoon and eventually got tapped in the quarter panel by Jamie McMurray, causing him to hit the inside retaining wall head on. Once out of the car, Gordon pointed towards the wall, obviously signaling for the track officials to make the track safer in the future.

“I'm very frustrated by the fact that there was no SAFER barrier down there. I knew it was a hard hit and I didn't expect it to be that hard. I got out and looked, and I said, 'Oh wow, big surprise, I found the one wall here on the back straightaway that doesn't have a SAFER barrier.'" Gordon stated to reporters after the crash.

One of the best stories of the day had to be Brett Moffit, who was substituting for Brian Vickers in the #55 Toyota. Moffit finished eighth in Sundays race and stayed in The Top-15 for most of the afternoon. Brian Vickers will be take over driver duties for Michael Waltrip Racing next week at Phoenix.

With two races now in the books for the 2015 season, Joey Logano and Jimmie Johsnon stand atop the points with one win each. Third is Kevin Harvick. Fourth is Dale Earnhardt jr, and fifth is Martin Truex Jr. in the Furniture Row Chevrolet.

The Sprint Cup Series heads to the Las Vegas next Sunday for Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Last years winner, Brad Keselowski, would love to build some momentum with a victory, by obtaining his first victory at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Who Will Be Hot In Atlanta

By Brian Thornsburg on 2/27/2015

Who will take the checkered flag at Atlanta Motor Speedway next? The obvious choice would be anyone from Hendrick Motorsports, or someone from The Joe Gibbs Racing camp, but aren’t we forgetting about a few key players, who might challenge the favorites for the lead come Sunday?

Let’s take a look at Tony Stewart, who captured three checkered flags at Atlanta in his career. Stewart needs a rebound after he finished 42nd in The Daytona 500, and Hotlanta would be the best place to do that.

Jeff Gordon also needs to recover from his bad finish in The Daytona 500 last week. Gordon was running in The Top-ten, when he was caught up in a multicar incident on the last lap of the race. Recovery shouldn’t be a problem for Gordon, who is 6th on the all-time win list at Atlanta, with five wins in his 23 year career.

Fans also need to keep an eye on Kyle Larson in this race. Larson managed to finish eighth in his first cup race ever at Atlanta, his race team, Chip Gannasi Racing also has the best overall record at the track in the last two years, with an average finish of 9.50.This makes Atlanta a great place for Larson to pick up the first win of his career.

Gregg Biffle is another driver to watch on Sunday, with three Top-five finishes at Atlanta is his career. Biffle needs to get a spark going in The Roush-Fenway Racing camp, whose best finish came from Biffle, who finished tenth in Sundays 500. Fords are usually strong at Atlanta, with Ford winning 29 races in the tracks history. Chevy is first, with 38.

If you’re looking for consistency at Atlanta, look no further then Ryan, “The Rocket” Newman on Sunday. The RCR driver has an average finish of sixth in the last two races at the speedway, making this one of the best places for Newman to grab a victory at before The Chase in the fall.

Looking for a consistent pick at Atlanta? Then Kasey Kahne is your guy! He has Hendrick power under the hood, and has three wins at Atlanta in his Sprint Cup Career, including winning last year’s race there, and one from the pole in 2006.

Other Interesting facts:

NASCAR dropped its second Atlanta race from the season schedule in 2010. Since then, The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has only raced once a year at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The vacant spot in the schedule was eventually taken up by Kentucky Motor Speedway, who hosted their first NASCAR race ever in 2011.

Atlanta Motor Speedway has a history in the movie industry, with scenes from Smokey and The Bandit and Stroker Ace both filmed at the race track. Atlanta has a presidential history as well, with Jimmy Carter working at the track as a ticket taker during his younger years.

With one race already in the books, and another 500 miles of racing just over the horizon, this season will definitely be one to watch for any NASCAR fan. Joey Logano’s win should prove one thing that anyone can win on any given Sunday in the sport of NASCAR. The question this week is, WHO?

Joey Logano Wins Daytona 500

By Brian Thornsburg on 2/23/2015

You can call Joey Logano many things, but now a Daytona 500 Champion is one of them. The 25 year old New Hampshire native got a big push from Clint Bowyer on the final restart of the race, before the caution flag waved for a big wreck on the backstretch, giving Logano the win.

"I can't believe it. That is really amazing. The Daytona 500. Oh my God. Are you kidding me?” Logano said, as he stood in disbelief over what is probably the biggest win of his Sprint Cup Career. His previous best. Finish in The 500 was 9th in 2012.

Logano’s win on Sunday also virtually guarantees him a spot in The Chase for The Sprint Cup in September. This will be his third appearance in NASCAR’s version of the postseason, his best finish in standing came last season, when he finished fourth last season. Finish in The 500 was 9th in 2012.

Logano led 31 laps, including the final nine laps of the race. Many of those 31 laps were spent going three wide with the likes of Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin to protect his led on the pack. With one lap to go, Kevin Harvick tried to line up with Dale Jr to try to fight Logano for the win, but a multi-car accident would end any hope of that happening.

Kevin Harvick would up finishing second, Dale Jr finished third, Denny Hamlin finished fourth and Jimmie Johnson rounded out The Top-Five in fifth. Regan Smith, who took over driver duties for Kurt Buch, after he was suspended by NASCAR for alleged Domestic abuse on his girlfriend, finished 16th.

Matt Crafton, who took over the wheel for Kyle Busch, after his leg injury in yesterday’s Xfinity Series Race, finished 18th. His JGR teammate, Carl Edwards, finished 24th in his first race for Joe Gibbs. His other teammate, Matt Kenseth, finished 35th, after an incident involving Tony Stewart on lap 50.

Defending Daytona 500 Champion, Dale Earnhardt Jr, lead 32 laps, and stayed up front for most of the day, but a late race mistake, dropped him back in the pack. Jr eventually recovered the incident and finished in the third position. Making him the highest finishing Hendrick driver in the opening race of the season.

While finishing highest amongst his teammates is something to be happy about, Jr remained disappointed that he wasn’t able to secure the win in the final corner of the race. “"I made a real bad decision on that restart with 19 to go, made a poor choice and got shuffled back and lost a ton of spots. I'm real disappointed because the guys gave me the best car and we should have run the race." Earnhardt said after the race.

Jeff Gordon sat on the pole for the final Daytona 500 of his career, and led 87 laps in Sunday’s race. Gordon was running in The Top-ten on the last lap, when he got caught up in a multi-car incident on the backstretch. He ultimately finished 33rd, but had nothing but positives to talk about with reporters.

"For some reason I'm still smiling and enjoyed every moment of it. I obviously enjoyed the first half (of the race) more than the second half. … This is an amazing week and an amazing day. I'm just in this different place that is so foreign yet so incredible, just soaking it all in."

The Sprint Cup Series heads to Atlanta next for The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. Expect a strong finish from both Hendrick and The Joe Gibbs Racing cars, as The Sprint Cup Series races on the fastest speedway in the world!

2015 Daytona 500 Prediction

By Brian Thornsburg on 2/22/2015

Like my dad always said about winning the lottery, "You gotta be in it to win it" The same can be said for Sundays 57th running of Daytona 500, where 43 cars will compete in a 200 lap race of survival for a chance to make it in the record books.

While skill will certainly play a factor in The Great American Race on Sunday, the 43 car field will also need to simply survive the 500 mile endeavor around the 2.5 mile speedway. That means staying out of trouble all day and make sure you have a car to fight for the lead at the end.

Rain shouldn’t be a factor Sunday though, as weather reports state that Daytona will be foggy in the morning, but everything will be blue and clear come race time. That report is a welcomed relief for race fans, with four races in the history of the 500 being shortened due to rain. The last coming in 2009, where 152 laps were run.

Although rain may not be a factor, that doesn’t completely rule out the possibility of something delaying The Great American Race on Sunday. The race was delayed for several hours in 2007, when pot holes appeared on the racing service due to heavy rain. The race ended in prime time that year for the second year in its history, with Jamie Mcmurray taking the checkered flag.

The race was delayed again in 2012, when heavy rain forced NASCAR to reschedule the race for Monday evening at 7pm. The race was delayed again with forty laps to go, when Juan Pablo Montoya crashed into a jet dryer during a caution, causing that part of the track to erupt in flames. Track officials eventually cleaned the mess up and got the race restarted, with the finish happening at 12:20 am Tuesday morning. Kenseth won his second 500 that year.

The cause for delay this year could be a red flag for a big wreck, like we saw twice in Saturday’s Xfinity series race at Daytona. The last accident was particularly brutal, with Erik Jones getting spun and accidently making contact with teammate, Kyle Busch, resulting in Busch taking a wild ride at full speed into the inside wall of the speedway. He was able to climb out of his car under his own power, but had to be helped into an ambulance, when he complained of pain in his right leg.

Expect the four Hendrick drivers and four Gibbs drivers to have the biggest advantage of the field during Sundays due to their domination of speed weeks with Matt Kenseth wining The Sprint Unlimited, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson qualifying on the pole, and Dale Jr and Jimmie Johnson sweeping The Duel races on Thursday.

If you have to pick one of those eight drivers to win it all on Sunday, go with Joey Logano. He finished third during his duel race on Thursday, 6th during last Saturdays Sprint Unlimited and will start fifth on Sunday. If him and teammate, Brad Keselowski, can hook up and avoid trouble at the end of the race, then expect Joey Logano to race his way into the history books!

Truex Jr. Poised For A Victory

By Brian Thornsburg on 2/17/2015

Its 2015 and Martin Truex Jr looks like a new man! He finished second to Matt Kenseth in The Sprint Unlimited on Saturday night, led a season high, 28 laps in the race , and even qualified 12th for next Sundays 56th running of The Daytona 500.

Truex ended up finishing second to Matt Kenseth, after a late race red brought the race to a halt for several minutes. On the restart, Kenseth was able to get by Truex and pull away from the field to win the race.

After the race, Truex gave an emotionally charged interview, where he had this to say to reporters” We needed this. The race was over once Kenseth pulled away from me. But we needed this. After the last year and a half that I've had this satisfies a lot."

While some may attribute Truex Jr’s great performance in Saturday nights Unlimited to the number of other drivers eliminated by massive pile ups, one has to remember that Truex led a majority of the laps in the first segment of the race and finished first at the end of the first segment, proving he had a good car from the beginning.

Saturday’s good fortune had to be welcomed break from how Truex faired in 2014. Truex finished last season with only five top ten’s, three DNF’s, and an average finish of only 20.2. He also finished 24th in the final point standings, His best finish all season coming in the Fall Chase race at Kansas Motor Speedway.

Truex has had a great level of success at Daytona before, winning the 2005 summer race in the Xfinity Series. He also sat on the pole for the 2009 Daytona 500, but fell ended up finishing 11th after leading only one lap the entire race. Truex’s best finish in The Daytona 500 came in 2010 Daytona, where he finished 6th.

Whether Saturday’s great finish will translate into a trip to victory lane in the Great American Race remains to be seen, but this is definitely an improvement from Truex’s abysmal performance during the entire 2014 season.

Can Smoke Rise To The Occassion At Daytona

By Brian Thornsburg on 2/11/2015

Call me an optimist, but this just might be the year Smoke rises, for The 500 at least. Tony Stewart has never won The Daytona 500 during his 16 year career in The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, his best finish coming in 2004 Daytona 500, where he finished second to eventual winner, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Now, with a new season upon him, and his leg hopefully well rested, what’s to stop the former Sprint Cup Champion from taking the checkered flag in The Great American Race? Sure, Stewart might seem like a dark horse to fans for the 500, because of his leg injury in 2013, but with Hendrick supplied engines at his disposal, you just can’t ignore Stewart as a contender.

For those of you still in doubt about the power of a Hendrick engine, consider this. Four of the last ten 500’s have been won by someone with a Hendrick engine under the hood. Stewart also has the benefit of having three great teammates, who can push him to the front in the closing laps of the race, including former 500 winner and defending Sprint Cup Champion, Kevin Harvick.

Fans have to also consider the fact that, Stewart has won at Daytona six times in The Sprint Cup Series, and seven times in The Xfinity series, making him a constant contender at the 2.5 mile speedway. Stewart has also set a record in The Xfinity Racing series, with four straight Daytona victories from 2009-2013.

Stewart may not be a obvious pick for this year’s great American Race, but with 15 try’s under his belt, and his chance at making history hanging in the balance, there is no doubt in my mind, that Smoke can rise to the occasion and capture his fourteenth victory at Daytona International Speedway.

Don't Count Out Carl

By Brian Thornsburg on 2/9/2015

A new team could make all the difference for Carl Edwards in 2015. Not only does he now have the man that helped Tony Stewart beat him for the Sprint Cup Championship in 2011, but he also has all the wisdom and experience of four time Sprint cup championship owner, Joe Gibbs in his corner as well.

These two things may be deciding factors for a Daytona 500 victory, something that has alluded Edwards, since he began his Sprint Cup career in 2005. Edwards came close to Daytona 500 victory in 2012, but was unable to get passed Trevor Bayne in the closing seconds of the race to capture The Checkered flag.

JGR has come close to a 500 victory in recent seasons, most notably 2014, where Denny Hamlin almost stole the win away from eventual winner, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Matt kenseth also had a strong showing that year, finishing sixth in first race in a JGR Toyota. Teammate, Kyle Busch, finished 19th that year, despite leading 26 laps in the race.

The Gibbs cars had another strong finish in The 500 in 2012, where Denny Hamlin led 24 laps, finishing fourth and then JGR teammate, Joey Logano, finished 9th. Despite never leading a lap the entire race, Kyle Busch managed to finish 17th, after falling back in the closing laps.

Edwards will also have the championship experience of Darian Grubb for the 2015 season,the same man who helped propel Jimmie Johnson to his first Daytona 500 victory in 2006, when Chad Knaus was suspended for an illegal adjustment to Johnson’s rear window during qualifying.

Do all these factors equal a 500 victory for Cousin Carl? Who knows, but with a new season upon him and championship crew chief in his ear, it’s certainly hard to count him out as a top contender this season in The Sprint Cup Series.

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