[NASCAR] Speed Addicts

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Speed Addicts: Zero Hour

– Steve Price, aka “Speed Addict”
For Inside Pulse Sports – 09/10/2005

Hello, race fans! Welcome to the final regular season edition of Speed Addicts here at Inside Pulse! As always, this is your Host with the Most coming at you, back with the low down on Richmond! Oh, but if you don’t get enough NASCAR goodness tonight, just wait until tomorrow!

Tomorrow morning, work will begin on the 3rd Inside Pulse Quarter Special, with in depth profiles on the ten drivers that will have been locked into the Chase, along with reviews for all eight of this quarter’s races, performance awards, and an in depth preview of next Saturday’s Speed Addicts, which will serve as our official “Chase for the Nextel Cup” kickoff here at Inside Pulse. On Sunday evening next week, you’ll see the return of the fabled RaceDay Pulse, the first of the ten-part series dealing with every Chase race on the schedule. We’ll also be building up to our November Blitz, with a massive end-of-year special edition of Speed Addicts, the RaceDay Pulse from Homestead-Miami, and the regular return of Ice This! Of course, we have to brave Richmond first, so let’s jump on it.

Race #26 of 36: Chevy Rock & Roll 400
Date: Saturday, September 10th, 2005 from Richmond, Virginia
Time: 7:00 PM on TNT
Pole Sitter: Kevin Harvick (128.425 MPH)
Distance: 300 Miles (400 Laps – 0.75 Mile Track)
2004 Winner: Jeremy Mayfield (Race Ran 09/11/04)
Busch Race Winner: Kevin Harvick

Richmond, Virginia. Site of the “ultimate payback track”, as coined on local Charlotte sports radio 610 AM “the Franchise” (cheap pop). Moreover, the site of the track that has quite possibly become the fourth best track in NASCAR, behind Bristol, Daytona, and Charlotte. Arguably the fastest short track in the world, Richmond International is what we like to call here at Speed Addict Central, a bloody F’n fun track to watch a race at. Richmond has long since been the site of many heart-pounding finishes… and plenty of fisticuffs to boot. Arguably one of the most memorable scuffles in NASCAR history, between Dale Earnhardt (Sr.) and Darrell Waltrip occurred here. Then again, we may see Ryan Newman and Dale Jarrett tangle tonight, so it’s not like the track has mellowed out or anything. Richmond gained a lot of notoriety in NASCAR circles for challenging Humpy Wheeler and Charlotte “Lowe’s” Motor Speedway several years ago for the rights to the then-Winston, NASCAR’s version of the all-star race. Just to have the chutzpah to buck the establishment was brave enough, but Richmond International has gained considerable momentum in the hunt for the Nextel All Star Challenge. Enough so to send Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Wheeler, and pretty much all of North Carolina into a panic.

I’d like to say that I’m joking here, but I’m not. The N.C. State Legislature and Governor Mike Easley (you know, the governing body of the state of NORTH CAROLINA), have done everything short of sticking dynamite underneath the racing surface at Richmond, Atlanta, and Infineon to keep the “Nextel” in Charlotte. The tax breaks that we mentioned back in May have been approved and signed into law for NASCAR by our racing lug nut Governor, who narrowly missed his second “racing accident” during his stint with such luminaries as the Lowe’s Motor Speedway Mascot earlier this year in Raleigh.

Ah, you have to love North Carolina. At least we still haven’t resorted to drinking contests, yet. Yet… Anyways, that’s neither here nor now. The Chevy Rock & Roll 400 is really the most important Nextel Cup race to date in 2005, as it marks the final chance for some drivers to gain entry into the ’05 Playoffs. There are a handful of them out there, too. Some drivers will be trying to race their way in, while others try to keep from racing themselves out. Fun times, no? We’re going to ignore the rest of the field for today (though I promise, this is not a precedent during the Chase – we’re covering all 43 entrants equally from now on), since Richmond is really important for its Chase implications.

Speaking of those implications, Bud Pole qualifying produced a “worst-case” scenario for guys like Gordon, Newman, Sadler and Dale Jarrett. Kevin Harvick, currently 15th in points and hanging onto his Chase hopes by the last little ounce of thread, qualified for the pole for tonight’s race. This means that Harvick, a guy who needs a miracle to qualify for the Chase, will automatically be in the best position to win (see May’s race at Richmond, where pole sitter Kasey Kahne scored his first career win). That also means that everyone from 11th to 14th in the points has just had their chance to enter the Chase lessened. Do not forget – there are four drivers that are going to be racing just as hard as the guys on the outside. Jeremy Mayfield, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, and Jamie McMurray are going to be racing as if Jason Voorhees were right behind them all night. This is why Richmond is such a fun race to watch.

There are six drivers that have clinched spots, and they include Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, and Kurt Busch. That doesn’t mean that any of them will not figure into the finish. Roush Racing teammates Biffle, Martin and Busch have teammates in Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth lurking right behind in unsecured Chase positions right now. If the chance arises, do not be shocked to see the Roush camp playing “favorites” on the track. The same can be said for the Hendrick boys, as Chase-lock Jimmie Johnson will most definitely be helping his teammate Jeff Gordon (12th Place in Points) out as much as possible, along with the rest of the Hendrick camp that have already been eliminated. Ditto the Penske camp, as Rusty Wallace will be helping his teammate Ryan Newman out whenever possible. Harvick has won the pole, as we already know, so that gives him a natural advantage. That leaves the Robert Yates cars in a bad position; both Elliott Sadler and Dale Jarrett are fighting for their playoff lives right now; neither can afford to help the other out, because they may be fighting for one position. And poor Joe Nemechek, who has little help anywhere in the field, is going to end up short of the Chase due to his insane bad luck. It really is too bad, because Joe deserves a lot better than this.

With all that, you also have to include the guys that are now racing for 11th in points, i.e. those that have been eliminated from “postseason play”. There are guys like Dale Earnhardt Jr. out there that are looking for some revenge for their own mishaps, and they could become major players in the outcome of the 26-race regular season. All in all, this could very well be the most exciting, complicated, and bloody fun race to watch this year, so make sure to get your tail in a seat ready for the action!

Predicted Top Five
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Mark Martin
3. Matt Kenseth
4. Jeff Gordon
5. Carl Edwards

Bud Pole Qualifying Results from Richmond
01. #29 Kevin Harvick – GM Goodwrench/Gretchen Wilson Chevrolet
02. #16 Greg Biffle – National Guard Ford
03. #77 Travis Kvapil – Kodak/Jasper Engines Dodge
04. #6 Mark Martin – Viagra Ford
05. #97 Kurt Busch – Crown Royal Ford
06. #24 Jeff Gordon – DuPont Chevrolet
07. #5 Kyle Busch – Kellogg’s/Delphi Chevrolet
08. #12 Ryan Newman – ALLTEL Dodge
09. #88 Dale Jarrett – UPS Ford
10. #19 Jeremy Mayfield – Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge

01. #29 Kevin Harvick – GM Goodwrench/Gretchen Wilson Chevrolet
02. #16 Greg Biffle – National Guard Ford
03. #77 Travis Kvapil – Kodak/Jasper Engines Dodge
04. #6 Mark Martin – Viagra Ford
05. #97 Kurt Busch – Crown Royal Ford
06. #24 Jeff Gordon – DuPont Chevrolet
07. #5 Kyle Busch – Kellogg’s/Delphi Chevrolet
08. #12 Ryan Newman – ALLTEL Dodge
09. #88 Dale Jarrett – UPS Ford
10. #19 Jeremy Mayfield – Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge

11. #01 Joe Nemechek – U.S. Army Chevrolet
12. #31 Jeff Burton – Cingular/Big & Rich Chevrolet
13. #17 Matt Kenseth – DeWalt Power Tools Ford
14. #9 Kasey Kahne – Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
15. #2 Rusty Wallace – Miller Lite Dodge
16. #21 Ricky Rudd – U.S. Air Force/Motorcraft Ford
17. #41 Casey Mears – Target/Lysol Dodge
18. #99 Carl Edwards – Scotts Ford
19. #38 Elliott Sadler – M&M’s Ford
20. #43 Jeff Green – Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge

21. #37 Tony Raines – Patron Tequila/BoSPOKER.net Dodge
22. #25 Brian Vickers – GMAC/ditech.com/Green Day Chevrolet
23. #18 Bobby Labonte – Interstate Batteries Chevrolet
24. #48 Jimmie Johnson – Lowe’s Chevrolet
25. #20 Tony Stewart – The Home Depot Chevrolet
26. #4 Mike Wallace – Lucas Oil/Muzik Mafia Chevrolet
27. #07 Dave Blaney – Jack Daniel’s/Drive-By Truckers Chevrolet
28. #15 Michael Waltrip -NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet
29. #8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Budweiser True Music/3 Doors Down Chevrolet
30. #22 Scott Wimmer – Caterpillar Dodge

31. #0 Mike Bliss – NetZero Best Buy Chevrolet
32. #42 Jamie McMurray – Texaco Havoline Dodge
33. #32 Bobby Hamilton Jr. – Tide Chevrolet
34. #39 David Stremme – Navy “Accelerate Your Life” Dodge
35. #50 Jimmy Spencer – Allied Steel Structures Dodge
36. #09 Johnny Sauter – Miccosukee Gaming & Resorts Dodge
37. #10 Scott Riggs – Valvoline/Nickelback Chevrolet
38. #7 Robby Gordon – Jim Beam Chevrolet
39. #11 Terry Labonte – FedEx/Kinko’s Chevrolet
40. #45 Kyle Petty – Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge
41. #40 Sterling Marlin – Coors Light Dodge
42. #49 Ken Schrader – Schwan’s Home Service Dodge
43. #66 Mike Garvey – Peak Fitness Ford

Nextel Cup Points Standings – Thru 9/4/05 [California]
Italics – Drivers locked into the Chase, Bold – Still Eligible

1. Tony Stewart 3570 Points / Leader
02. Greg Biffle 3361 Points
03. Jimmie Johnson 3312 Points
04. Rusty Wallace 3257 Points
05. Mark Martin 3149 Points
06. Kurt Busch 3114 Points

07. Jeremy Mayfield 3073 Points
08. Carl Edwards 3014 Points
09. Matt Kenseth 2939 Points
10. Jamie McMurray 2929 Points
11. Ryan Newman 2928 Points / -01 Out of 10th
12. Jeff Gordon 2899 Points / -30 Out of 10th
13. Elliott Sadler 2877 Points / -52 Out of 10th
14. Dale Jarrett 2812 Points / -117 Out of 10th
15. Kevin Harvick 2798 Points / -131 Out of 10th
16. Joe Nemechek 2794 Points / -135 Out of 10th

Victory Lane
I apologize in advance for the short column today, but events in my personal life have forced this column to its premature end. I hope to see you all tomorrow evening for the posting of the Quarter Special, and I wish everyone well along the North Carolina – South Carolina coastline. We may be in store for another big hurricane, folks. Until then, this is the Speed Addict, wishing you all a good weekend.

And, for the record, who was it on IP Sports Radio that predicted the Notre Dame win over Michigan, anyways? I forget, now.