Upcoming Events in the World of NASCAR
Next week, the NASCAR Nextel Cup teams head west to the golden state of California to race in the Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway. Infineon Raceway is one of two road courses on the NASCAR Nextel Cup circuit that helps add another dimension to an already challenging schedule. NASCAR is the only American series that offers up superspeedway, short track, and road course racing.
The grueling 1.99 mile road course of Infineon is a challenge to both drivers and cars alike. The track offers up 12 turns and varrying elevetaion changes. Often times, even the most skilled road-course drivers suffer setbacks due to transmission or other mechanical failures. Expect to see drivers lose gears as they down and up shift their 3000lb, 850 horsepower rockets around the track.
Next week at Infineon, expect Jeff Gordon & Tony Stewart to battle it out. Of the current drivers, both Gordon and Stewart rank in the top 5 for career finishes at road course events.
Also expect the following drivers to do well next week:
Other drivers to note:
Mark Martin – Average Finish 9th
Kevin Harvick – Average Finish 13th
Robby Gordon – Average Finish 14th
Next Week’s Schedule:
Nextel Cup: @ Infineon Raceway (all times in EST)
6/24/06 – 2:10pm NASCAR Nextel Cup Dodge/Save Mart 350 Practice
6/23/06 – 07:05pm NASCAR Nextel Cup Dodge/Save Mart 350 Qualifying
6/25/06 – 03:40pm NASCAR Nextel Dodge/Save Mart 350
Busch Series: @ The Milwaukee Mile (all times in Central)
6/24/06 – 12:00pm NASCAR Busch Series AT&T 250 Practice
6/24/06 – 05:05pm NASCAR Busch Series AT&T 250 Qualifying
6/24/06 – 08:05pm NASCAR Busch Series AT&T 250
Craftsman Truck Series: @ The Milwaukee Mile (all times in Central)
6/23/06 – 01:00pm NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series TOYOTA TUNDRA MILWAUKEE 200 Practice
6/23/06 – 05:30pm NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series TOYOTA TUNDRA MILWAUKEE 200 Qualifying
6/23/06 – 08:15pm NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series TOYOTA TUNDRA MILWAUKEE 200
See complete 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Race Schedule
If you’re a gambling junkie, I have a tip for you! Bet on Kasey Kahne whenever he wins the pole. In the modern era of NASCAR, how often does the pole sitter win the race? Not often! Just ask Ryan Newman. However, Kasey Kahne has been able to win multiple times starting from the pole.
Rain-shortened or not, Kahne had the car to beat yesterday in the 3M Performance 400. After starting the race fast, Kahne suffered a setback while pitting under green on lap 51; the pitstop put Kahne down in 38th position. However, by lap 90, Kahne had rocketed back up into the top 10 for good. In the end, the race was determined on pit road as Kasey edged out Carl Edwards by a foot for the win.
Yesterdays performance is an indication that not only Kasey Kahne has arrived but so has Evernham Motorsports. Finally, Evernham Motorsports has a driver in the top 3 who poses a serious threat every weekend.
Shop for Kasey Kahne Merchandise
I hate to pick on the wounded, but Tony Stewart is being tagged this week in the Who’s Not section. Through no fault of his own, Tony was spun into the turn 3 wall on lap 22 in a race-ending wreck. The wreck raises several serious questions, 1) Did the wreck further irritate the already injured shoulder of Tony 2) is Tony feeling somewhat gun shy after having multiple hard wrecks in the last several races and 3) is Tony’s, as well as his team’s, confidence at a level where it needs at this point in the season?
With only 10 races left before the Nextel Cup Championship field is set, the competition from positions 6-13 is heating up. It is critical for the drivers currently in the top 10 to perform consistently. That means no more 30+ place finishes for Tony. Ever since the All-Star break, Smoke has slowly begun slipping down the points standings. He currently is in 6th place with only a 132 point cushion between him and the 11th place driver, Jeff Gordon.
If Tony doesn’t start finishing like the Tony of old, he may end up on the outside looking in when the Nextel Cup Chase for the Championship begins.
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Last Week’s Headlines
Yesterday’s win at Michigan in the 3M Performance 400 proved that Kasey Kahne is the man when starting out front, and that he’s not Wicked Witch of the West. While everyone was running for cover as the rain-ending downpour started, Kasey strolled happily down pit-road soaking up every last drop. To Kasey, after narrowly beating Carl Edwards off of pit-road, I’m sure the rain felt like sun shining on a perfect day.
Yesterday was also a strong day for two drivers looking to qualify for the Chase for the Championship, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards. Both finished in the top 5 boosting Greg Biffle into the top 10, and Carl within 85 points of 10th.
Another big mover of the day was Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr had one of the strongest cars of the race, and at some points the strongest. In the end, Earnhardt finished 3rd and moved up into 4th place in the points standings.
Jeff Gordon improved his chances for qualifying for the Chase for the Championship by finishing in the top 10 and moving to within 11 points of the 10th place standing. Expect Jeff to continue to better his chances at making the top 10 with a strong finish at Infineon Raceway next week.
See complete 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Race Schedule