Aspiring motorsports journalist, Boston University class of 2013. This is a collection of my work starting with the 2012 motorsports season. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and be sure to read my most popular pieces.
Previewing tonight’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Only three spots in the Chase for the Sprint Cup remain, and with two likely going to Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne, the onus is on the other eligible drivers to score a win.
Five drivers have one victory apiece and can clinch by winning on Saturday: Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Marcos Ambrose, Ryan Newman, and Joey Logano. Among them, Busch has the best chance at scoring the 12th and final Chase spot; not only does he have the points advantage if none of those drivers win, he has a superhuman 4.7 average finish at Richmond with four wins and 12 top fives in 15 starts.
Recapping NASCAR’s Labor Day weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, as all three national touring series took on the 1.5-mile tri-oval. Denny Hamlin (Sprint Cup), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Nationwide), and Ty Dillon (Camping World) were this weekend’s three race winners.
Six more drivers locked themselves into Chase spots, with nine in by points and Tony Stewart in as at least a wild-card. The final race before the Chase takes place at Richmond, where Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, and Jeff Gordon will be the favorites to take the three remaining spots. But don’t sleep on Marcos Ambrose, Ryan Newman, and Joey Logano, who can each punch their ticket with a victory.
Previewing tonight’s Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the 25th race of the Sprint Cup season and the penultimate event in the Race to the Chase. With wins at an extra-special premium for wild card drivers, expect somebody whose Chase spot isn’t yet secure to break out tonight and take home the victory.
The best of the wild card contenders at Atlanta is Jeff Gordon, whose 12.2 average finish ranks third among active drivers. He’s scored five wins and 24 top-10s in 38 career starts, numbers good enough to put him in championship contention were they all part of the same season. In fact, as defending race winner, Gordon should be looked upon as a favorite to win Sunday’s event.
Currently eighth in Global Rallycross points as that series takes a two-month break, Andy Scott took the opportunity to return to the European Rallycross Championship for rounds at Belgium and Holland in August. While Scott scored his best two finishes of the ERC season in these two rounds last year, this year’s events were a bit more challenging.
“Certainly in Holland, the times we got through the third heat, we had something more,” Scott says. “We had the pace, (but) we had a first corner incident again in the second heat. I think even with the first two heat results, if we would’ve gotten through the third heat, we would’ve made the A final. We certainly had the pace to be in the mix. So I’ve come away, certainly, with confidence.”
Reviewing the past week in NASCAR, as the Sprint Cup and Camping World series visited Michigan International Speedway and the Nationwide cars headed north to Montreal. Turner Motorsports swept the Truck and Nationwide races, while Jimmie Johnson’s late-race engine failure handed Sunday’s win (and the points lead) to Greg Biffle.
Johnson looked to extend his points lead with his first career win at Michigan until his engine blew with six laps to go. It wasn’t the first Hendrick Motorsports engine failure of the day, as Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon both encountered motor problems as well, and it came after a post-qualifying engine change that sent Johnson to the rear of the field for the start.
Previewing this weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International, the 30th Cup race of the track’s storied history. 2010 winner Juan Montoya and defending race champion Marcos Ambrose are the likely drivers to beat, as many of the sport’s biggest stars struggle on the 2.454-mile road course.
Besides Tony Stewart, the majority of the top 10 in points has struggled at Watkins Glen. Only Kevin Harvick has scored a victory, which came in 2006; only Jimmie Johnson has more than two top five finishes or a pole position at the track. The top three drivers in points, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, and Greg Biffle, have a combined average finish of 20.8 with eight top 10s in 33 starts.
Recapping the past week in NASCAR, as the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series visited Pocono Raceway and the Nationwide Series ran at Iowa Speedway. Richard Childress Racing won both support races with Joey Coulter and Elliott Sadler, respectively, while Jeff Gordon finally took his first win of the year in a rain-shortened event on Sunday.
The biggest off-track news of the week concerned Penske Racing, which decided to release A.J. Allmendinger almost a month after his initial positive drug test and shortly after his enrollment into NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program. Sam Hornish Jr. will run Allmendinger’s car for the balance of the season, while owner Roger Penske will explore a plethora of options for 2013.
Reviewing the last off week of the Sprint Cup season, as the Nationwide Series and Camping World Trucks took on Chicagoland Speedway. James Buescher won Saturday’s Truck race, while Elliott Sadler scored Sunday’s victory by holding off Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on a late restart caused by Sam Hornish Jr. spinning Kyle Busch into Brendan Gaughan.
The fallout from the incident, meanwhile, led to some choice post-race words. Hornish had been upset about short-pitting and was anxious to make up race positions, but after the race claimed that he was checking his hood pins when he bumped Busch. Gaughan dismissed the excuse as “lame” on his Twitter account, noting that drivers can’t see their hood pins from inside the car. Busch tweeted that he avoided an interview because “(even) Ray Charles saw” that he was wrecked.
Reviewing the past week in NASCAR competition at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Kasey Kahne took Sunday’s featured Sprint Cup event, while Brad Keselowski won Saturday’s Nationwide Series race after a controversial block by Amber Cope on race leader Kevin Harvick:
After the race, Harvick swerved his car at Cope’s to show displeasure, and told media “She wants to be Danica Patrick, but she can’t even hold her helmet.” A defiant Cope tweeted a picture from half a lap before her block, attempting to coerce an apology out of Harvick; his only response was “at least I know the 24 car will drive straight on Sunday.”
Recapping the past week in NASCAR action, which saw two ultra competitive road course races end with surprise winners. Saturday saw ex-Formula 1 driver Nelson Piquet Jr. take his first career Nationwide Series win at Road America, while former Kansas dirt track standout Clint Bowyer dominated Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway.
As with last year, Jacques Villeneuve appeared in a Penske Racing car for the event and made himself plenty of enemies. Late in the race, he and Elliott Sadler were racing for the same piece of real estate in Turn 5, leading to a Sadler spin. But he managed to top last year’s incident, which saw him try to pass Brian Scott and Max Papis in the grass and ruin both their races, on the final lap. This time, he punted Danica Patrick on the final lap, again in turn five. She had been looking at a top five finish, but fell to 12th. Meanwhile, Villeneuve still managed a sixth place finish.