Page 2 for the week of 03-10-2014

The First Reid: Early-Season Parity Clouds Chase Picture

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

Three races. Three different winners.

Yes, it’s a very small sample size, but if the trend continues, we may see more than 15 different winners in the first 26 races for the first time in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup era.

If that happens, who makes the Chase? Based on their answers to questions this past weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, there may be drivers who don’t fully understand the nuances of qualifying for this year’s 10-race playoff.

Here’s the bottom line: there are 16 Chase spots available. The first 15 are reserved for race winners. The 16th goes to the series points leader, if the leader doesn’t have a victory in the first 26 races.

If there are 15 or fewer race winners in the regular season, it’s simple. All race winners qualify for the Chase (provided they’re in the top 30 in the standings), and the highest points finishers without wins fill out the remaining positions.

If there are 16 or more winners, it’s more complicated. The first 15 Chase spots go to the top 15 race winners, with tiebreakers being 1) number of wins and 2) position in the standings. If the series leader after 26 races doesn’t have a victory, which is unlikely, he or she also qualifies.

If the series leader does have a win, the top 16 winners advance to the Chase, and no one qualifies based solely on points.

 

Got it? Let’s hope the drivers do.

 

@nascarcasm

We will periodically offer readers glimpses into the NASCAR rule book. This week’s finish, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #88 team gambling on fuel, led NASCAR to clarify what exactly they meant when they said drivers who have already qualified for the Chase can afford to take more risks.

We will periodically offer readers glimpses into the NASCAR rule book. This week’s finish, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #88 team gambling on fuel, led NASCAR to clarify what exactly they meant when they said drivers who have already qualified for the Chase can afford to take more risks.

  • Note from the #2 Miller Lite team to the #88 team after the race: “Much like our refreshing sponsor, when it comes to fuel, we thank you for being less filling.”
  • The big surprise of the day? Paul Menard’s third-place finish. The RCR driver departed Las Vegas quickly following the race, because A.) His wife is due to give birth to their first child at any moment, and B.) He gets really tired of confused Vegas tourists approaching him for pictures and asking him to sing a verse of “Viva Las Vegas.”
  • Don’t want to say Tony Stewart’s 2014 campaign is off to a rough start, but apparently black cats now consider it bad luck when Tony Stewart crosses their path.
  • Last week, Kurt Busch announced last week he would be pulling double-duty on Memorial Day weekend, and would attempt to run BOTH the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte. Many race fans didn’t consider running two races in one day that great a feat, until being reminded that one of the Daytona 500s broadcast a couple of weeks ago was actually a rerun.

(Follow @nascarcasm on Twitter. His unique views on NASCAR are his own – but chances are you already knew that.)

NASCAR Numbers

By Reid Spencer

1.67: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s average finish through the first three races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. After winning the Daytona 500, Earnhardt finished second at both Phoenix and Las Vegas, losing the latter race after running out of fuel on the final lap. Nevertheless, the start to the season is Earnhardt’s best ever.

100: The total number of laps led by Paul Menard in 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup starts at Bristol Motor Speedway. Statistically, Menard has had more success at Bristol than at any other track, despite his win in the 2011 Brickyard 400. The 100 laps at BMS are the most Menard has led at any track, and his five top 10s there also are a career high-water mark.

1: The number of points separating NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski three races into the NASCAR Sprint Cup  season. Earnhardt has a win and two runner-up finishes, while Keselowski has finished third, third and first in the opening three races. Jimmie Johnson is third in the standings, 16 points back.

5: The number of victories Kyle Busch has recorded at Bristol Motor Speedway, his highest total at any track. In scoring 12 top 10s in 18 starts at Thunder Valley, Busch has led 1,431 laps at the .533-mile short track, far and away his most at any venue.

7: The number of consecutive victories at Bristol Motor Speedway posted by NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip from March 1981 through April 1984. Naturally enough, that amazing streak, accomplished with car owner Junior Johnson, constitutes a record for the track, where Waltrip won 12 times all told. His first and last victories at Thunder Valley came 14 years apart, in 1978 and 1992.

NASCAR ETC.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has never led the points standings for three consecutive weeks to open a season. This is not, however, his longest stretch with the points lead. In 2004, Earnhardt led the points after seven consecutive races – from race Nos. 8-14. … Kyle Busch led a season-high 52 laps at Las Vegas, putting his NASCAR Sprint Cup career total at 9,860. He can become the 15th driver in series history to reach 10,000 laps led. He’s led 140 or more laps at Bristol in four of his 18 starts. … There have been three different winners to start the season. Last year, there were five different winners to open the season. … Matt Kenseth’s 10th-place finish at Las Vegas on Sunday gave him 250 top 10s in his NASCAR Sprint Cup career. He’s the 22nd driver to accomplish the feat. … Paul Menard’s third-place finish at Las Vegas was his best since October 21, 2012, at Kansas, which also was a third-place finish.

National Series Standings

This year, wins matter more than in any season in the 65-year history of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Essentially, a win locks a driver into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Pos     Driver                                   Points

1       Dale Earnhardt Jr.                133

2       Brad Keselowski                  132

3       Jimmie Johnson                    117

4       Joey Logano                           116

5       Jeff Gordon                             115

6       Carl Edwards                         105

7       Matt Kenseth                          105

8       Denny Hamlin                       101

9       Ryan Newman                      97

10     Kyle Busch                              95

11     Jamie McMurray                  93

12     Greg Biffle                               86

13     Austin Dillon #                      84

14     Kevin Harvick                       83

15     Kasey Kahne                           83

16     Ricky Stenhouse Jr.             80

NASCAR Nationwide Series

Pos     Driver                                   Points

1     Regan Smith                             117

2     Trevor Bayne                          114

3     Elliott Sadler                            108

4     Ty Dillon #                                105

5     Chase Elliott #                         103

6     Brian Scott                                97

7     Brendan Gaughan                  94

8     Dylan Kwasniewski #          87

9     James Buescher                      86

10   Mike Bliss                                  81

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Pos  Driver                                      Points

1      Timothy Peters                       43

2      Johnny Sauter                          41

3      Ron Hornaday Jr.                    39

4      Ryan Blaney                             38

5      Jeb Burton                                37

6      Joe Nemechek                         36

7      Jimmy Weller III                    35

8      German Quiroga                     34

9      Ryan Sieg                                   33

10    Tyler Reddick                         32

Tweets Of The Week

Jenna Fryer
Associated Press
@JennaFryer
Roger Penske’s week: A hole-in-one, a #NASCAR win.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
@DaleJr
I don’t know about y’all but I think @mattkenseth cheats………

Ross Kenseth
@RossKenseth

I KNOW he does…

!cid_image004_jpg@01CF3C73

 

 

 

 

Vince Neil @TheVinceNeil
Me and @RealCarrotTop at Nascar! Go 99

@nascarcasm
Kurt’s new plan for the double – run Indy 500, “get lost on way to airport,” miss flight, stay in Indy, hit clubs with Marco Andretti. #shr

  1. Mario Andretti
    @MarioAndretti
    Atta boy @KurtBusch doing the double. Love that passion for trying to do it all. @IndyCar @NASCAR

Rock LA
@rock_starla

Goodness I love my couch, my TV @NASCAR and @DaleJr

  1. Racer24  @Racer24
    Can’t hear Jeff Hammond w/ him standing soo close to the cars. BUT with that tan, we can certainly .. SEE HIM. #NASCAR @nascar

This Week

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES

The Race:

Food City 500

The Place:

Bristol Motor Speedway

The Date/Time:

Sunday, March 16, 1 p.m.

TV: FOX

Radio: PRN,

Sirius XM Ch. 90

NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES

The Race:

Drive to Stop Diabetes 300

The Place:

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

The Date/Time:

Saturday, March 15,

2 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

Radio: PRN,

Sirius XM Channel 90

Tune-In: NASCAR On Television, Week of March 10-16

Monday, Mar. 10                                          

Noon, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Las Vegas re-air, FOX Sports 1

3 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

4 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub re-air, FOX Sports 2

5 p.m., NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Race at Phoenix re-air, FOX Sports 2

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

6:30 p.m., NASCAR’s The List – Memorable Moments, NBC Sports Network

 

Tuesday, Mar. 11

3:30 a.m., NASCAR Now, ESPN2

Noon, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub re-air, FOX Sports 2

 

Wednesday, Mar. 12                                                          

2 a.m., NASCAR Now, ESPN2

Noon, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub re-air, FOX Sports 2

 

Thursday, Mar. 13

11 a.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

4:30 p.m., NASCAR’s The List – Fights & Feuds, NBC Sports Network

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub re-air, FOX Sports 2

 

Friday, Mar. 14                                                  

2 a.m., NASCAR Now, ESPN2

Noon, NASCAR Sprint Cup Practice, FOX Sports 1

1:30 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Practice, FOX Sports 1

2:30 p.m., NASCAR Live, FOX Sports 1

3 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Final Practice, FOX Sports 1

4 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

4:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FOX Sports 1

 

Saturday, Mar. 15

9 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice, FOX Sports 1

10 a.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Qualifying, ESPN2

10 a.m., TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Race at Sebring, FOX Sports 1

Noon, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Practice, FOX Sports 2

1 p.m., NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race at Phoenix re-air, FOX Sports 2

1:30 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Countdown, ESPN2

2 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Race at Bristol, ESPN2

Sunday, Mar. 16

3 a.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Race re-air, ESPN2

4 a.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Race re-air, ESPN Deportes

8 a.m., FOX Sports 1 on 1: Jimmie Johnson re-air, FOX Sports 1

8:30 a.m., TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Race at Sebring, FOX Sports 1

11:30 a.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FOX Sports 1

12:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pre-Race Show, FOX

1 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Bristol, FOX

6:30 p.m., NASCAR Victory Lane, FOX Sports 1

7 p.m., NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race at Phoenix re-air, FOX Sports 1

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