Tag Archives: Fantasy

Jeff Gordon is Ready for Intense Racing at Chicagoland Speedway

The NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup begins at Chicagoland Speedway. Jeff Gordon has been on a roll this season looking for his fifth Championship and is ready for Chicagoland. The Challenger Round for the Chase begins with the MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

The Chicagoland Speedway is one of the 1.5 mile D shaped ovals which dominate the NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule. Many people refer to them as cookie cutter tracks but in reality they are all different in one way or another with the exception of being 1.5 mile around. Chicagoland has 18 degrees of banking in all four turns and 11 degrees of banking in the front stretch. The front stretch is more of a big sweeping turn than a straight away. The back straight away has 5 degrees of banking. The race is 267 laps (400.5 miles).

The new format for the Chase for the Sprint Cup includes three rounds of three races each. Four drivers will be eliminated after each round. The three rounds are the Challenger Round, Contender Round and Eliminator Round. Any driver who wins a race automatically advances to the next round which put a big emphasis on Winning. After the last round there will only be four drivers left who will race at Homestead Miami where the highest finisher of the four will win the Championship. The whole goal of the Change in format is to create intense racing.

Oh, yeah, it’s going to be really, really intense.  I think you actually have to try to balance out that intensity to try to make it not too intense for yourself.” Gordon added, “Certainly the first two rounds, everybody has this focus on you got to win, you got to win.  That’s not true.  You got to be solid.  It would be nice to win.  We’re going to be going out there to win.  You still don’t want to have a big problem.  In the past, the problem has taken you completely out of it and it still can in this format.

Jeff Gordon doesn’t have the best career driver rating at Chicagoland Speedway. His rating of 96.9 is fifth best. Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch all have higher ratings see chart below:

Gordon’s season to date driver rating, which covers every race at every track so far this season, is the best of all drivers. That is a reflection that he is driving better than anyone this season. Brad Keselowski, last week’s winner, leads the point standings but has a slightly lower overall driver rating. Jeff Gordon finished second last week. These two drivers are expected to take their momentum with them into the Chase and throughout all the Rounds right to Homestead.

The weather unlike previous years at Chicagoland is expected to be relatively cold and more importantly dry. The speeds at this track are expected to be higher than ever. If that will add even more intensity to the racing.

If you cannot get to the Chicagoland Speedway for the MyAFibStory.com 400 it will be broadcast on ESPN on Sunday September 14th starting at 1 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 290386 John Harrelson/NASCAR via Getty Images

Top 10 Driver Rating at Chicago
Jimmie Johnson                         117.2
Tony Stewart                              109.8
Matt Kenseth                              105.4
Kyle Busch                                102.7
Jeff Gordon                                 96.9
Kevin Harvick                               96.4
Brian Vickers                               95.0
Brad Keselowski                          93.6
Clint Bowyer                                91.4
Carl Edwards                               90.1
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (nine total) among active drivers at Chicagoland Speedway.

Season
Rank Season Driver
Driver Points Wins Poles Rating
1. Brad Keselowski 2,012 4 4 103
2. Jeff Gordon 2,009 3 2 109.1
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2,009 3 0 98
4. Jimmie Johnson 2,009 3 1 99.9
5. Joey Logano 2,009 3 1 106.3
6. Kevin Harvick 2,006 2 6 106.7
7. Carl Edwards 2,006 2 0 82.6
8. Kasey Kahne 2,003 1 0 89.9
9. Kyle Busch 2,003 1 2 88.9
10. Denny Hamlin 2,003 1 2 90
11. Kurt Busch 2,003 1 0 87.6
12. Aric Almirola 2,003 1 0 73.9
13. AJ Allmendinger 2,003 1 0 70.7
14. Matt Kenseth 2,000 0 1 92.8
15. Greg Biffle 2,000 0 0 81.3
16. Ryan Newman 2,000 0 0 84.7

 

Tony Stewart is Running Out of Time and New Hampshire Might Help

Tony Stewart is 20th place in the standings for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. With only eight races left, his only hope to get into Championship contention is to win. It is lucky for Stewart that NASCAR is returning to one of his better tracks; the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a one mile short track, 1.058 miles to be exact. There is 2-7 degrees of banking in the corners and 1 degree in the straight-aways but this is considered to be flat.  The race is 301 laps, or 318.46 miles. The track is unlike others in that it is a true oval. It is very hard to pass at this track so qualifying will be more important than it is at other tracks. 52.6% of the races have been won from a top ten starting position and 73% from a top fifteen starting position.

The well worn out adage that “when summer comes Tony Stewart gets hot” may have some truth to it but this year he better live up to it. Stewart is in 20th place, 30 points out of making the last spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup on points. That is almost one full race. He won’t make it unless he leap frogs the others by winning a race.

Now that we have left Daytona behind we can go back to looking at driver ratings to see how the drivers fare at New Hampshire. Tony Stewart leads all active drivers with a great rating of 111 followed by Jeff Gordon 109.2 and of course everyone’s nemesis Jimmie Johnson at 105.8. Putting any one of these three time New Hampshire winners on your fantasy team would be a good plan.

Other drivers to watch would be Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman, also three time winners.

This is one tough track and Tony Stewart knows how to get it done.

It’s a big motor deal. With the corners being so tight, you’ve got to put a lot of gear in the car to get it up off the corner. Forward bite is always an issue there too, so it’s hard to get up off the corners.” Stewart added “Then you’ve got long straightaways where you can kind of relax a little bit. Coming into the corners, you use a lot of brake, and it’s hard to not only get the car stopped, but to get it to turn. Then you go through that challenge all over again.

Tony Stewart will have Hendrick power under the hood so he has the “big motor deal” covered. With wins in 2000, 2005, and 2011, he seems to adapt well to winning in different cars and has won on this track in all different types of Sprint Cup cars. Look for Tony Stewart to adapt again and get to victory lane this Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

If you cannot get to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Camping World RV Sales 301 it will be broadcast on TNT starting at 1 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 288074 Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Top 10 Driver Rating at New Hampshire
Tony Stewart……………………….. 111.0
Jeff Gordon………………………… 109.2
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 105.8
Denny Hamlin………………………. 102.9
Dale Earnhardt Jr…………………… 97.3
Clint Bowyer…………………………. 95.0
Kyle Busch…………………………… 93.1
Ryan Newman……………………….. 92.5
Kasey Kahne………………………… 92.4
Kevin Harvick………………………… 91.1
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (18 total) among active drivers at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Can Dale Earnhardt Jr Sweep Daytona International Speedway

This week NASCAR returns to Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Daytona 500 this season. Will he be able to achieve a season sweep at Daytona?

The Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway is the third of four restrictor plate races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Daytona is a 2.5 mile “D” shaped extremely high banked superspeedway. The banking of 31 degrees in the turns allows drivers to run around the race track without backing off the gas pedal. In order to keep the cars from running too fast, NASCAR makes them reduce engine horse power by limiting the air to the engine via restrictor plates.

Every week we use driver ratings to help dial into the driver or drivers that will do well. That statistic is very good at every track except the restrictor plate tracks. If a driver hangs around at the back of the pack and does not race, his driver rating, even if he wins, will be very low. That alone is why driver ratings do not work for restrictor plate tracks. Kyle Busch has the highest driver rating of 97.1, he seldom ever hangs around the back of the pack.

This race is also known from time to time to be won by someone totally off the radar but that doesn’t mean the usual suspects won’t be there either. In July those drivers are beginning with last year’s winner Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, and Kevin Harvick.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is having one of the best seasons of his career. His win in the Daytona 500 appeared to be done in a fun and natural way. His second win at Pocono was a team effort to get up to the front and be there in order to capitalize on another driver’s problem.

Dale Jr will have to fight Tony Stewart who has never won a Daytona 500 but has four wins in July.

This race is the last race of the NASCAR an American Salute program where cars will have special paint schemes supporting the United States Armed Forces.

If you cannot get to the Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola it will be broadcast by TNT on Saturday July 5th at 7:30 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 287693 Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Daytona
Kyle Busch…………………………… 97.1
Matt Kenseth………………………… 92.9
Dale Earnhardt Jr…………………… 92.0
Tony Stewart…………………………. 90.0
Jimmie Johnson…………………….. 89.0
Kurt Busch……………………………. 88.9
Jeff Gordon………………………….. 88.0
Denny Hamlin……………………….. 85.5
Clint Bowyer…………………………. 83.5
Kevin Harvick………………………… 83.1
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (19 total) among active drivers at Daytona International Speedway.

Jeff Gordon Wants to Check Kentucky Speedway off his List

Last week NASCAR and Jeff Gordon were at the Sonoma Raceway for some road course racing. Jeff Gordon was running down Carl Edwards but couldn’t catch him and finished second. This week Gordon and NASCAR are back at Kentucky Speedway for some more traditional racing. It is possible both drivers will pick right back up where they were. This week is the Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway.

The Kentucky Speedway is a D shaped oval. You might hear people refer to it as one of the cookie cutter speedways. That is true to a point except some of them have much more banking than others. This track has some of the least banking of all of them, more similar to Chicagoland Speedway. The fact that this speedway is also well weathered and bumpy should make for some interesting racing.

Each week we look at the driver ratings to see who might be good at a particular track. The problem with driver ratings is that they are not as telling if there are not many races in this statistic. Since the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has only run at Kentucky three times, the stats that look compelling might not be so.

According to the driver ratings, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch have ratings of 125.9 and 125.2 which are phenomenal for a 1.5 mile speedway. These are the product of only a few races but that doesn’t mean they are not good here. Consequently Jeff Gordon’s rating of 91.8 isn’t as bad as it looks considering he has all top ten finishes.  It takes about seven races before any one race doesn’t dominate the driver rating stat.

Since those stats are not as reliable as they normally would be, that leaves us to fish. One only needs to look to one of the similar 1.5 mile speedways. At Kansas Speedway Jeff Gordon led only nine laps over Kevin Harvick to win. Joey Logano also led a whole bunch of laps. Rounding out the drivers who were good were Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne. Other drivers to watch are previous winners; Kyle Busch—who is trying to win all three races this week, Brad Keselowski, and last year’s winner Matt Kenseth. Carl Edwards, who won a Nationwide and Truck Series race, is also a threat.

Gordon said, “Kentucky is a very challenging track that is tough to win on. The transitions are tricky – it’s pretty flat from the back straightaway into to Turn 3 plus there’s a huge bump going in there.”

Since this track is relatively new to the schedule Jeff Gordon has never won here, nor has Jimmie Johnson.

“Winning at all the tracks would be something that I would be very proud of.” Gordon added “But it seems every time we get close to accomplishing that goal, another track is added! But I think winning at all the tracks would be a pretty awesome feat.”

Jeff Gordon and his team led by Alan Gustafson have been having the best season in years. They are poised to add to their win and be solidly in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.

If you cannot get to Kentucky Speedway for the Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts it will be broadcast on TNT on Saturday Night, June 28th at 6:30 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 298001 Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Kentucky
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 125.9
Kyle Busch…………………………. 125.2
Matt Kenseth……………………….. 109.3
Brad Keselowski………………….. 104.8
Kasey Kahne………………………… 98.2
Denny Hamlin……………………….. 98.1
Carl Edwards………………………… 94.5
Jeff Gordon………………………….. 91.8
Martin Truex Jr………………………. 90.7
Kurt Busch……………………………. 90.6
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (three total) among active drivers at Kentucky Speedway.

Jeff Gordon and Team Will Put it Together at Sonoma

Last week NASCAR was at the large two mile Michigan International Speedway for some very fast D shaped oval racing where Jeff Gordon led 36 laps but fell victim to the pit strategy of his teammate Jimmie Johnson. This week NASCAR and Jeff Gordon visit a much different speedway. This week is the first road course race of the season at Sonoma Raceway.

The Sonoma Raceway is in Sonoma, California and is a 12 turn road course that is 1.99 miles in length. Road courses are all but impossible to describe in words. The race is 110 laps, 218.9 miles or 350 Kilometers.

Every road course race win requires a great driver who can out brake and out corner the other drivers. It also requires a team that can perform flawlessly since any loss of track position in the pits is terminal. If a team can put that together they also need great pit strategy. The crew chief literally runs the race backwards in his head to figure out what lap would be the earliest they can pit the last time. Then they make their bed, pit and stay out regardless of if a caution flag flies or not. This is where races are won or lost.

Historical driver ratings are a great way to dial into the driver that will do well at any particular race. Road course races are no exception. This week the top of the driver ratings is Marcos Ambrose with a rating of 108.0 followed by Kurt Busch 107.8, Tony Stewart 102.4, Jeff Gordon 101.6, Jimmie Johnson 97.3. Also add in Clint Bowyer at 95.2. Juan Pablo Montoya is not entered into the race.

Each and every one of those drivers would be a great pick to win this race but since you can’t pick them all how do you sort them out? Winning this race requires a great team, not just a great driver, so we need to look deeper. We just so happen to have come from the last three races (Dover, Pocono, Michigan) that sometimes get settled by pit strategy similar to that required at a road course.

The average finish of our selected drivers the past three weeks are Marcos Ambrose 21.6, Kurt Busch 11.3, Tony Stewart 10.3, Jeff Gordon 9.66, Jimmie Johnson 2.66, and Clint Bowyer 8.33.

This is where Jeff Gordon has the edge over everyone except Jimmie Johnson. His low average finish and high driver rating shows he and his team have the edge. He also leads all drivers in wins at Sonoma with five. Only Tony Stewart comes close with two wins.

“I grew up in Vallejo – which is a few miles from the track in Sonoma – but I was always racing on ovals or dirt tracks as a kid. It was much later before I turned my first lap at Sonoma while in a driving school preparing for my first Cup start there.” Gordon added, “I immediately saw the challenges and the fun of racing at Sonoma and on road courses. We’ve worked hard as a team to be competitive on road courses and we’ve had a lot of success at Sonoma. But it’s not an easy track to conquer.

We started the season with there being talk about Jeff Gordon retiring, but the reality is Gordon isn’t driving like he is going to retire. He is having one of the best seasons he has had in a long time. He currently leads the standings in points and has already won a race and will be in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Look for Gordon to be the first repeat winner at Sonoma in nine years.

If you cannot get to Sonoma Raceway for the Toyota/Save Mart 350, it will be broadcast on TNT Sunday, June 22nd at 2 PM ET. Green Flag is 3 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 287292 Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Sonoma
Marcos Ambrose………………….. 108.0
Kurt Busch………………………….. 107.8
Tony Stewart……………………….. 102.4
Jeff Gordon………………………… 101.6
Jimmie Johnson…………………….. 97.3
Juan Pablo Montoya………………. 95.5
Clint Bowyer…………………………. 95.2
Kyle Busch…………………………… 88.0
Ryan Newman……………………….. 88.0
Carl Edwards………………………… 86.8
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (nine total) among active drivers at Sonoma Raceway.