Thursday, September 24, 2009

TNQC & TNRC - Loudon

Alrighty then, the Chase field for both titles are set and these are the drivers who made it and by how much driver 13 missed out by in the order of their standings after Richmond.

Firstly, the QC - Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson, Brian Vickers, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Juan Montoya, David Reutimann, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr and Greg Biffle.

Denny Hamlin missed out by 46 points in the end but had no shot at making it in anyway once Truex planted his #1 Chevy on the front row (Denny needed to take the pole and hope Martin qualified no better than 17th). Actually, Denny did leapfrog over Tony Stewart as Tony could have settled for second on the grid in that scenario and knocked out Denny as he was 51 points behind Truex before Richmond...but neither happened so it doesn't matter.

To the RC then - Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Brian Vickers, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth and Juan Montoya make it in.

Ryan Newman was the unlucky guy this time as it was all set up for him; Montoya didn't score a point at Richmond so had Ryan won, he'd have bumped Juan...oddly enough, the other 11 guys were locked in regardless (I accept cheques, Mr Kenseth *grin*).

No bonus points were given to the points leader after Richmond as neither 'pre-playoffs' title was already wrapped up.

As it stood prior to the Loudon weekend, here's how the top 12 lined up via the bonus points (4 per pole/win).

Tez's NASCAR Qualifying Championship - Chase field:

=1 - Mark Martin (24 points, 6 poles)
=1 - Brian Vickers (24 points, 6 poles)
=3 - David Reutimann (8 points, 2 poles)
=3 - Martin Truex Jr (8 points, 2 poles)
=5 - Kyle Busch (4 points, 1 pole)
=5 - Jimmie Johnson (4 points, 1 pole)
=5 - Juan Montoya (4 points, 1 pole)
=5 - Ryan Newman (4 points, 1 pole)
=9 - Greg Biffle
=9 - Kurt Busch
=9 - Jeff Gordon
=9 - Kasey Kahne

Tez's NASCAR Race Championship - Chase field:

1 - Mark Martin (16 points, 4 wins)
=2 - Jimmie Johnson (12 points, 3 wins)
=2 - Tony Stewart (12 points, 3 wins)
=4 - Denny Hamlin (8 points, 2 wins)
=4 - Kasey Kahne (8 points, 2 wins)
=4 - Matt Kenseth (8 points, 2 wins)
=7 - Kurt Busch (4 points, 1 win)
=7 - Jeff Gordon (4 points, 1 win)
=7 - Brian Vickers (4 points, 1 win)
=10 - Greg Biffle
=10 - Carl Edwards
=10 - Juan Montoya

So it's the ol...uh, experienced guy out front as the cars rolled off the transporters.

And, after the first round of the Chase, here's how things sit.

Tez's NASCAR Qualifying Championship - after Chase round 1:

1 - Mark Martin (29 points, 6 poles)
=2 - Brian Vickers (25 points, 6 poles)
=2 - Juan Montoya (25 points, 2 poles)
4 - Martin Truex Jr (22 points, 2 poles)
=5 - Kyle Busch (16 points, 1 pole)
=5 - Kurt Busch (16 points)
7 - David Reutimann (14 points, 2 poles)
8 - Jeff Gordon (10 points)
=9 - Jimmie Johnson (8 points, 1 pole)
=9 - Kasey Kahne (8 points)
11 - Ryan Newman (7 points, 1 pole)
12 - Greg Biffle (2 points)

Hamlin (393) leads Stewart (372), Marcos Ambrose (261) and Scott Speed (241) for the, probably not-so, coveted 13th spot.

Tez's NASCAR Race Championship - after Chase round 1:

1 - Mark Martin (27 points, 5 wins)
2 - Jimmie Johnson (18 points, 3 wins)
3 - Denny Hamlin (16 points, 2 wins)
4 - Tony Stewart (14.5 points, 3 wins)
=5 - Matt Kenseth (9 points, 2 wins)
=5 - Kurt Busch (9 points, 1 win)
7 - Kasey Kahne (8.5 points, 2 wins)
=8 - Brian Vickers (7 points, 1 win)
=8 - Juan Montoya (7 points)
10 - Jeff Gordon (6 points, 1 win)
11 - Greg Biffle (4 points)
12 - Carl Edwards (1.5 points)

Ryan Newman (407) has a slender lead over Clint Bowyer (400.5), Kyle Busch (379) and David Reutimann (356) as we head to Dover for round 2 or 28...depending on which title you're looking at :P

At this stage, things aren't looking that great for the defending champions (Jimmie in the QC and Carl in the RC) but there's a lot of action still to be played out.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Prodigal Son Returns?

At least, that's what Ford are hoping will happen with the announcement this week that Richard Petty Motorsports have signed a letter of intent to merge with Yates and race under the Ford banner next year. That means that Kasey Kahne, after seven years, will have the blue oval on his suit rather than the funky ram...and that my stuff will all be out of date I just realised, thanks Kasey *rolls eyes*

So what does that mean (my sulking over the aforementioned merchandise not included)?

Well, that should give Ford a second organisation capable of running at the front reasonably often. However, it will also leave Penske as being the sole Dodge team and, as Chevy have proven over the years, putting your eggs in more than one basket tends to give you better options should a team not be up to snuff in a particular year (DEI last year for example).

Being the top team for a manufacturer does have its perks; just look at the stunning, pre-chase, season JGR had with Kyle Busch and Toyota last year but it remains to be seen whether Penske can pull off the same kind of thing. One has to remember though that while JGR were, without a doubt, the top Toyota team, Red Bull and MWR were able to snap at their heels on the odd occasion...Dodge won't have that luxury next year now Petty have jumped ship.

The Bud man is set to become a Ford man too.

As far as I can tell, Kahne left Ford in 2003, citing the reason that they weren't giving him the support needed for him to ascend to the Cup level. Ford didn't really like that and, in the end, things turned ugly and Kasey was forced to pay an undisclosed amount to Ford as compensation. So will the old saying of 'time heals all wounds' be proven true or will salt get poured onto said wound instead? We shall see I guess.

But what about 2009, will this hinder a late season charge by Kahne?

Possibly not given it was this team who, with Evernham's help, managed to get Dodge back into NASCAR. It was Kahne who scored the new Charger's first win at Richmond in 2005 and it was also this team who lured the, arguably, most recognisible paint scheme when Budweiser became their main sponsor last year. That's not a bad list of achievements car #9 has behind them and, with Kurt Busch's recent poor form in comparison, it may very well be Kahne who provides Dodge with their best shot of a title.

And I highly doubt Dodge would mind rubbing that in Ford's nose next year if he can pull it off.

Friday, September 4, 2009

It's the Finals

Not that I'm expecting anyone to really read this given the contents but I haven't done a non-motorsport blog on here since...uh...since I joined apparently. Ahem, moving on.

Ahh yes, September. The month where Spring is, supposed to be, brought into action to fend off the evil dryness of a Southern Hemisphere winter. It's also the month where both the NRL and AFL seasons reach their conclusions with the top 8 teams qualifying for the playoffs.

NRL first since I've been into that for longer than the AFL *laugh*

With the final round currently under way, only the top six are assured of playing next week. The battle for the last two spots hinges entirely on the Newcastle vs Penrith match as the West Tigers shocked the second-placed Bulldogs last night to be sitting in eighth right now. However, that is only on points difference over Newcastle and a single point ahead of Penrith and since you get two points for a win and one for a draw, that rules out Wests from making it.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Dragons clinched the top spot due to the result last night. Not bad for a first time coach...well, with this team anyway. Wayne Bennett joined the team this year having spent the last 20 at Brisbane. Under his reign, the Broncos won the title in all six appearances (1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2006) and have not missed out on September action since 1991. Since the swap to a top 8 playoff in 1995 (1 plays 8, 2 plays 7, 3 plays 6 and 4 plays 5...the two lowest ranked teams that lose are eliminated), I think I'm right in saying that no team that has finished eighth has managed to knock off the minor premiers and I see no reason why that trend won't continue this year.

As usual, the Broncos will rely heavily on their captain; Darren Lockyer.

So a prediction then...well, recent history suggests that St George will bomb out so I'd have to say the final will be between the Bulldogs (2nd) and Melbourne (4th). I'd put your money on a different combination given my apalling record of tipping though ;)

To the AFL now where the finals started last night with Adelaide smashing (and thus eliminating) Essendon. The other elimination game pits Brisbane against Carlton in Brisbane. The AFL top 8 system works far better to me...the bottom four do the elimination games while the top four battle it out for the week off. That leaves no room for the potential bottom four all winning, thus booting out the teams who finished third and fourth like in the NRL.

Anyway, I digress. St Kilda go into the finals as the clear favourite having only lost a couple games all season so I'd expect them to make the grand final. Their opponent...I'd have to go with the second placed Geelong to be honest. They've been red hot the last few years and I see no reason why they can't make the final again.

All of Brisbane will be hoping that Voss can translate his playing days to his coaching ones.

As for 'my teams' from Brisbane...well, the Broncos did better than I thought given the first coach change in the clubs' history while the Lions (also with a coach change as Leigh Matthews, the man who led the team to four straight grand finals from 2001 to 2004, winning the first three left, replaced by former club captain and legend, Michael Voss) reached the finals for the first time since their loss to Port Adelaide in the 2004 grand final. I think the Broncos might make it to week two but I'm not sure the Lions can overcome their injury woes to beat Carlton.

Either way, it'll be a big month in Australia...and for the second straight year, I will be unable to watch any of it, dagnammit!