[NASCAR] Speed Addicts

Speed Addicts: And So It Begins… Again

– Steve Price, the “Speed Addict”
For Inside Pulse Sports / 09.17.2005

Welcome, one and all, to a “return to normalcy” of sorts here at Speed Addicts Central. As always, I am YOUR very own HOST with the MOST, back for another exciting trip into NASCAR La La Land on this beautiful Saturday. I hope you enjoyed these past two months of sparing content, because Speedy is refreshed and ready to cover NASCAR like it was meant to be covered.

For those of you living under a rock in the collective sports world, NASCAR begins its playoffs, titled the “Chase for the Nextel Cup” tomorrow afternoon from Loudon, New Hampshire. There are ten drivers who qualified for “postseason play” (who we’ll see in a minute), who will henceforth compete in the ten final races for the Nextel Cup, NASCAR’s highest prize. Formerly known as the Winston Cup, the Nextel Cup is awarded to the driver who is consistently the best among the other Chase contenders during the ten races in this playoff format’s infancy. So, from here on out, we’ll be giving special coverage to the ten drivers in the Chase, and previewing the upcoming series of races like you wouldn’t believe. Of course, Speed Addicts is still your home for the best that NASCAR has to offer, so don’t be turned off if your driver isn’t among the proud few. Having said that, we are going to begin our day with our Chase for the Cup coverage; if it doesn’t interest or affect you, scroll on down to the Track Profile.

The 2005 Chase for the Nextel Cup
A Look Ahead to the Final Races in the Chase for Glory

Ten men. Ten races. One “Chase” away from immortality. With stakes like that, it’s no wonder that Nextel Cup regulars want to make the Chase so badly. The NASCAR “Chase for the Nextel Cup” finally begins tomorrow afternoon in New Hampshire, and as promised since February, Inside Pulse will be your source for the latest breaking news stories, events, and race notes/previews dealing with everyone’s favorite playoff season. So, to start us off, let’s take a look at the ten drivers who will be representing this year’s field for the Chase. We begin with arguably the best driver on the circuit right now; a man that has very nearly forgotten how to run badly…

01. Tony Stewart
#20 The Home Depot Chevrolet – Greg Zipadelli, Crew Chief (Joe Gibbs)
Wins – 5 / Top 5 – 12 / Top 10 – 18 / Earnings – $5,327,800

Tony Stewart began the season desperately searching for a win. He had many chances to reach victory lane; such as in Brooklyn, Michigan in June for the Batman Begins 400. Several times Stewart claimed the most laps led in an event, only to come up short at the very end. Then, finally, on the last “NASCAR on FOX” broadcast of 2005, Tony Stewart won his first race of the season. He has nearly forgotten how to lose since, winning four more races (Daytona, New Hampshire, Indianapolis, Watkins Glen). What’s more, Stewart has finished no worse than 8th place since Michigan, where he logged a Top 10 finish, also. Stewart is by far the most consistent driver entering the chase, in a sport where consistency pays dividends.

Stewart’s Prognosis: Extremely Good

02. Greg Biffle
#16 National Guard/Charter Communications Ford – Doug Richert, Crew Chief (Roush)
Wins – 5 / Top 5 – 10 / Top 10 – 15 / Earnings – $4,253,380

Greg Biffle is to the first half of 2005 what Tony Stewart is to the second half. Though he has slipped under the radar here and there, Greg Biffle still shares a tie for the most wins in NASCAR this season at five, and is secure in his second place spot in the points standings. One of the first drivers to clench his spot in the Chase, Biffle has enjoyed success at many tracks this season, though some of his biggest wins came at tracks that will not be visited during the chase (see: California). Biffle finished 5th at New Hampshire in July, but his chances in the Chase should put him higher than that.

Biffle’s Prognosis: Excellent

03. Rusty Wallace
#02 Miller Lite Dodge – Larry Carter, Crew Chief (Penske)
Wins – 0 / Top 5 – 7 / Top 10 – 14 / Earnings – $3,694,980

Rusty’s “Last Call” may or may not be for real, but Wallace has definitely made a statement in this, what should be his final season in NASCAR’s Nextel Cup. A solid career would like to be capped off with a second Cup Championship if you’re a Wallace fan, though I’m not sure if that will help add to Rusty’s chances. What is necessary for a Wallace victory in the Chase is at least two wins, with nothing but Top 10 finishes from now until November. If he can also catch some luck here and there (say, Stewart and Busch DNF one race, Johnson and Biffle another), then Wallace may have an outside shot. For now, though, Rusty is playing with House money, and the House doesn’t lose very often.

Rusty’s Prognosis: Mediocre – Poor

04. Jimmie Johnson
#48 Lowe’s Chevrolet – Chad Knaus, Crew Chief (Hendrick)
Wins – 2 / Top 5 – 9 / Top 10 – 15 / Earnings – $5,128,450

Jimmie Johnson has had a rough go of it over the last month and a half; he hasn’t finished in the Top 10 since Michigan back in mid-August, and he has only logged three Top 10 finishes in the last ten races (since the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in July). NASCAR is very much a game of momentum; witness the likes of Tony Stewart (who forget how to lose when they’re hot) and Jeff Gordon or Joe Nemechek (who can’t buy a nickel to buy a dream of actually running well when they’re not). Fortunately for Johnson, he has many things going for him that should help turn his luck around. Johnson has dominated at Charlotte for what feels like years now, and could find his winning rhythm at that track follow him to Atlanta and Texas, two other tracks that are similar in design to Charlotte. Johnson has also run well at just about every track forthcoming, though his big drawback will most likely come at Talladega in a few weeks. Johnson also has this distinct advantage, though some might be slow to realize it: Johnson is the only Hendrick car in the Chase for the Cup. That, my friends, is a huge advantage, and here’s why: Roush has five of the ten cars in the Chase, which increases his chances to win the Cup. However, that also hinders the Roush drivers who could otherwise benefit from help from their teammates. You think Kurt Busch or Greg Biffle is going to help out Carl Edwards, Mark Martin or Matt Kenseth when the going gets rough? The same can be said for the smaller Penske group, as teammates Ryan Newman and Rusty Wallace are far too competitive to help each other out when things come down to the wire. This really opens the door for Tony Stewart, Jeremy Mayfield, and Jimmie Johnson (who have teammates that are not involved in the Chase, and are more willing to help out). Even more interesting is Johnson’s performance in the Chase last year; he won nearly half of the Chase races in 2004, and came within an eyelash of winning the title. Only a strong run by Kurt Busch, and a competitive teammate in Jeff Gordon kept him from the Cup. With one half of that equation removed from the picture (and Robbie Loomis added to the #48 crew as a special advisor), and Jimmie Johnson is in position to win the Nextel Cup.

Jimmie’s Prognosis: Extremely Good

05. Kurt Busch
#97 Sharpie/Irwin Industrial Tools Ford – Jimmy Fennig, Crew Chief (Roush)
Wins – 3 / Top 5 – 8 / Top 10 – 14 / Earnings – $5,347,290

Kurt Busch is the defending 2004 Nextel Cup Champion, having won the inaugural Chase for the Nextel Cup last year. It’s pretty obvious then that Busch knows a thing or two about competing in this format. Busch has several distinct advantages working for him, aside from the aforementioned championship run in 2004. Phoenix, the ninth race in the Chase, has been especially kind to Busch in the past (he won there on April 23rd, 2005), as has New Hampshire, where he led almost a hundred laps and finished second to Stewart. Most importantly, Busch is coming off a huge win at Richmond to close out the regular season, giving him three wins on the year (Phoenix, Pocono, Richmond). Unfortunately for Busch, the last regular-season win did little for Jeremy Mayfield last year, so one is inclined to discredit that idea. Moreover, Busch has never been particularly successful at Talladega, or Charlotte (where he finished dead last in this year’s Coca-Cola 600). If Busch wants to repeat, he needs a lot of help from his Roush teammates, which may be hard to come by when it really matters.

Busch’s Prognosis: Fair

06. Mark Martin
#06 Viagra Ford – Pat Tryson, Crew Chief (Roush)
Wins – 0 / Top 5 – 6 / Top 10 – 12 / Earnings – $4,288,220

Mark Martin, the grizzled veteran and sentimental favorite of many to win his first and only Nextel Cup Championship this year, is going to need a lot of help to do so. Martin’s best days are long gone, and Mark himself is unsure of his future in NASCAR. With a lot of his teammates competing for the same prize, and a lot of genuinely better drivers ahead of him, Martin’s chances are slim to none. But I will say this: Martin will never, ever quit on his team, and will race his heart out from now until Homestead-Miami. If Mark ever gives up on this team, I’ll never write another NASCAR column again. That’s a fact, jack. Mark is still one of my favorites, so huzzah.

Mark’s Prognosis: Emotionally High, Physically Poor

07. Jeremy Mayfield
#19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge – Slugger Labbe, Crew Chief (Evernham)
Wins – 1 / Top 5 – 4 / Top 10 – 7 / Earnings – $3,515,770

Mayfield kind of backed his way into the Chase in 2004, which is kind of how he made it into the Chase in 2005. A series of late-season miracles, with a little B.S. mixed in helped Mayfield make the Chase. Now, with the dismal 2004 performance looming over his every move, Jeremy Mayfield is going to be pressed to hang with the big dogs in the field. Can he do it? Not likely, because Mayfield will more or less become a Chase factor, not a Chase contender by the end. He may play spoiler for several Chase hopefuls, though.

Jeremy’s Prognosis: Poor

08. Carl Edwards
#99 Roush Racing Ford – Bob Osborne, Crew Chief (Roush)
Wins – 2 / Top 5 – 8 / Top 10 – 10 / Earnings – $3,195,620

Even more so than Mayfield, Carl Edwards is going to play the role of spoiler in the Chase. There are too many difficult races ahead for a rookie to handle, especially with such pressure and so much at stake. That being said, Edwards is the only rookie that I’d trust with this kind of task; you know, winning the Nextel Cup and all in your first season. He’s already secured Rookie of the Year honors for sure; now, he’s going to play a pivotal role in the Chase. Will he help… or eliminate his fellow Roush teammates?

Carl’s Prognosis: Poor

09. Matt Kenseth
#17 DeWalt Power Tools Ford – Robbie Reiser, Crew Chief (Roush)
Wins – 1 / Top 5 – 6 / Top 10 – 11 / Earnings – $4,166,510

Matt Kenseth. One of four Cup Champions in the Chase field (Stewart, Busch, Wallace), Kenseth fell into the Jeremy Mayfield/Ryan Newman boat by racing his way into the Chase in the late stages of the regular season. A win at Bristol in August sealed his fate for the Chase, but Kenseth has more on his mind than just a win or two. Kenseth has something very powerful working in his favor: revenge. Matt wants to avenge his utterly bizarre self-destruction in last year’s chase (which began an incredibly dry streak for the Roush driver), and a strong Chase performance this year can erase those bittersweet memories. Kenseth is a former Nextel Cup Champion after all; he knows how to get the job done when it matters the most.

Matt’s Prognosis: Fair

10. Ryan Newman
#12 Mobil 1/ALLTEL Ford – Matt Borland, Crew Chief (Penske)
Wins – 0 / Top 5 – 5 / Top 10 – 10 / Earnings – $4,076,880

Ryan Newman just barely made it in to the Chase by the hair on his … chin, and it shows. Statistically the weakest driver in the Chase field, Newman will have his work cut out for him if he plans on taking home some serious hardware in November. One of only two drivers in the Chase not to have won a race (Wallace) in 2005, Newman is far too inconsistent a finisher to be given serious consideration. His qualifying runs are a huge advantage, but until he can prove that he can finish near the top as much as he starts there, Newman is going to be delegated as an afterthought by Phoenix.

Newman’s Prognosis: Poor

These are the drivers that are going to race for the Cup. Of course, there success in this quest will depend on many circumstances. One of the most important factors in the Chase is the tracks in which the Chase for the Cup resides at over the next ten races. New Hampshire you know, but what about the other races between here and Homestead? Here’s a quick look at the ten Chase races, along with their classifications and the 2005 winners to date (if applicable).

Chase Race #01 of 10: Sylvania 300
Location: Loudon, New Hampshire
Date: Sunday, September 17th, 2005
Chase Race Pole Sitter: Tony Stewart (#20 The Home Depot Chevrolet)
Distance: 1.0 Miles per Lap (Mile Track)
2005 Winner: Tony Stewart

Chase Race #02 of 10: MBNA NASCAR RacePoints 400
Location: Dover, Delaware
Date: Sunday, September 25th, 2005
1st Race Pole Sitter: Jimmie Johnson (#48 Lowe’s Chevrolet)
Distance: 1.0 Miles per Lap (Mile Track)
2005 Winner: Greg Biffle (#16 National Guard Ford)

Chase Race #03 of 10: UAW-Ford 500
Location: Talladega, Alabama
Date: Sunday, October 2nd, 2005
1st Race Pole Sitter: Kevin Harvick
Distance: 2.66 Miles per Lap (Superspeedway)
2005 Winner: Jeff Gordon

Chase Race #04 of 10: Banquet 400 (Presented by ConAgra Foods)
Location: Kansas City, Kansas
Date: Sunday, October 9th, 2005
Pole Sitter: N/A
Distance: 1.5 Miles Per Lap (Superspeedway/Cookie Cutter)
2005 Winner: N/A

Chase Race #05 of 10: UAW-GM Quality 500
Location: Concord, North Carolina (Charlotte)
Date: Saturday, October 15th, 2005
1st Race Pole Sitter: Ryan Newman (#12 ALLTEL Dodge)
Distance: 1.5 Miles Per Lap (Superspeedway/Quad-Oval)
2005 Winner: Jimmie Johnson

Chase Race #06 of 10: Subway 500
Location: Martinsville, Virginia
Date: Sunday, October 23rd, 2005
1st Race Pole Sitter: Scott Riggs
Distance: 0.526 Miles (Short Track)
2005 Winner: Jeff Gordon

Chase Race #07 of 10: Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500
Location: Hampton, Georgia (Atlanta)
Date: Sunday, October 30th, 2005
1st Race Pole Sitter: Ryan Newman
Distance: 1.54 Miles (Superspeedway / Quad-Oval)
2005 Winner: Carl Edwards (#99 Scotts Ford)

Chase Race #08 of 10: Dickies 500
Location: Justin, Texas
Date: Sunday, November 6th, 2005
1st Race Pole Sitter: Ryan Newman
Distance: 1.5 Miles (Superspeedway/Quad-Oval)
2005 Winner: Greg Biffle

Chase Race #09 of 10: Checker Auto Parts 500
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Date: Sunday, November 13th, 2005
1st Race Pole Sitter: Jeff Gordon
Distance: 1.0 Miles per Lap (Mile Track)
2005 Winner: Kurt Busch (#97 Sharpie/IRWIN Industrial Tools Ford)

Chase Race #10 of 10: Ford 400
Location: Homestead-Miami, Florida
Date: Sunday, November 20th, 2005
1st Race Pole Sitter: N/A
Distance: 1.5 Miles per Lap (Superspeedway)
2005 Winner: ?

Chase Race #1 of 10: Sylvania 300

Qualifying Results, Chase Participant Rundown, Track Profile & Preview

So here we are. Ten races stand between us and the finish line. Can you handle the pressure, or are you going to quit now while you can? For those of you brave enough to take on NASCAR’s best, then strap in, because we’re about to suffer the wrath that New Hampshire can bring forth upon the wary viewer (i.e. this race tends to be painful to watch). For those of you who weren’t around (or don’t remember) the first race at New Hampshire this past July, then here’s a link to the RaceDay Pulse for it:

RaceDay Pulse: New Hampshire

For everyone else, here’s a quick refresher on the cautions and actual results of that race. For future reference, the Italics represent the drivers that are currently in the Chase for the Nextel Cup.

Cautions – Summer New Hampshire Race
Caution #1 – Laps 1 to 6 / Green & Yellow Start to the race because of rain.
Caution #2 – Lap 10 / Rusty Wallace spins Jeff Green & collects Robby Gordon
Caution #3 – Lap 27 / Jamie McMurray is spun out by Matt Kenseth in Turn 3.
Caution #4 – Lap 35 / Kurt Busch is spun by Bobby Labonte while checking up.
Caution #5 – Lap 59 / Yellow comes out for brief rain shower.
Caution #6 – Lap 117 / Debris
Caution #7 – Lap 164 / Debris
Caution #8 – Lap 216 / Robby Gordon slows with a flat tire.
Caution #9 – Lap 229 / Robby Gordon gets loose into Turn 4 and spins Mike Wallace.
Caution #10 – Lap 235 / Mark Martin spins out Elliott Sadler accidentally.

Unofficial Results – Summer New Hampshire Race
01. #20 Tony Stewart – The Home Depot Chevrolet
02. #97 Kurt Busch – IRWIN Industrial Tools Ford
03. #18 Bobby Labonte – Interstate Batteries Chevrolet
04. #5 Kyle Busch – Kellogg’s Chevrolet
05. #16 Greg Biffle – Post-it/National Guard Ford
06. #9 Kasey Kahne – Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
07. #12 Ryan Newman – ALLTEL Dodge
08. #2 Rusty Wallace – Miller Lite Dodge
09. #8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Budweiser Chevrolet
10. #17 Matt Kenseth – DeWalt Power Tools Ford

11. #25 Brian Vickers – ditech.com/GMAC Chevrolet
12. #99 Carl Edwards – Roush Racing Ford
13. #48 Jimmie Johnson – Lowe’s Chevrolet
14. #31 Jeff Burton – Cingular Wireless Chevrolet
15. #6 Mark Martin – Viagra Ford
16. #88 Dale Jarrett – UPS Ford
17. #15 Michael Waltrip – NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet
18. #01 Joe Nemechek – Chevrolet U.S. Army Chevrolet
19. #19 Jeremy Mayfield – Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
20. #07 Dave Blaney – Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet

21. #0 Mike Bliss – NetZero Best Buy Chevrolet
22. #29 Kevin Harvick – GM Goodwrench Chevrolet
23. #21 Ricky Rudd – Motorcraft Genuine Parts Ford
24. #11 Jason Leffler – FedEx Chevrolet
25. #24 Jeff Gordon – DuPont Chevrolet
26. #49 Ken Schrader – Schwan’s Home Service Dodge
27. #77 Travis Kvapil – Kodak/Jasper Engines Dodge
28. #32 Bobby Hamilton Jr. – Tide Chevrolet
29. #45 Kyle Petty – Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge
30. #7 Robby Gordon – Harrah’s Chevrolet

31. #43 Jeff Green – Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge
32. #10 Scott Riggs – Valvoline Chevrolet
33. #41 Casey Mears – Target Dodge
34. #40 Sterling Marlin – Coors Light Dodge
35. #22 Scott Wimmer – Caterpillar Dodge
36. #66 Mike Garvey – Jani-King Ford
37. #37 Kevin Lepage – BoSPOKER.net Dodge
38. #4 Mike Wallace – Lucas/Wide Open Energy Drink Chevrolet
39. #38 Elliott Sadler – M&M’s Ford (DNF)
40. #42 Jamie McMurray – Texaco Havoline Dodge (DNF)
41. #89 Morgan Shepherd – Cornerstone Bancard/Victory In Jesus Dodge (DNF)
42. #27 Ted Christopher – Freddie B’s Ford (DNF)
43. #200 Carl Long – Buyer’s Choice Auto Warranties Chevrolet (DNF)

For all fans of drivers in the chase, you can take this as good news: every Chase driver finished in the Top 20 back in July at New Hampshire. The scale ranges from Jeremy Mayfield (19th) up to Tony Stewart (1st), and includes three Roush drivers (Busch, Biffle, Kenseth) and two Penske drivers (Wallace, Newman) in the Top 10. However, four drivers also found themselves involved in accidents in July, and one would have to figure that their luck couldn’t hold out that well if they were involved in another wreck.

NASCAR Stat Tracker Version 2.0
This is the latest experimental feature here at Speed Addicts, and is pretty much what helped keep me sane these past weeks while my good friend Adam continues to party back home in Jamaica (insert *tear* here). So while he’s sitting fine in Negril getting drunk, I’m here to bring you the feature so hot, it makes Danica Patrick look like the love child of Kurt Busch and Lord Littlebrook (RIP Lord Alfred Hayes!): NASCAR Stat Tracker! Here’s how it works…

Each week, we’ll take every Chase driver and list his speeds throughout the numerous pre-race sessions, such as qualifying, Happy Hour, etc. We’ll rank them in order from the first to the worst, and examine what it means down below in the Race Preview. With that, let’s get this party started. This week, we’re only looking at Qualifying Speeds, though this will change over the next several weeks.

Qualifying Tracker
01. Tony Stewart – 131.143 MPH / 29.043 Seconds / Pole Position
02. Greg Biffle – 128.963 MPH / 29.534 Seconds / 26th Place Overall
03. Rusty Wallace – 130.229 MPH / 29.247 Seconds / 7th Place Overall
04. Jimmie Johnson – 129.820 MPH / 29.339 Seconds / 10th Place Overall
05. Kurt Busch – 129.727 MPH / 29.360 Seconds / 12th Place Overall
06. Mark Martin – 129.441 MPH / 29.425 Seconds / 15th Place Overall
07. Jeremy Mayfield – 130.060 MPH / 29.285 Seconds / 8th Place Overall
08. Carl Edwards – 129.003 MPH / 29.525 Seconds / 24th Place Overall
09. Matt Kenseth – 130.667 MPH / 29.149 Seconds / 4th Place Overall
10. Ryan Newman – 129.657 MPH / 29.376 Seconds / 13th Place Overall

Race Preview: Sylvania 300
Date: Sunday, September 18th, 2005 from Richmond, Virginia
Time: 1:00 PM on TNT
Pole Sitter: Tony Stewart (131.143 MPH)
Distance: 300 Miles (300 Laps – 1.0 Mile Track)
2004 Winner: Kurt Busch
Busch Race Winner: No Busch Race

Finally, it comes to this. The race to the chase is on, baby, and you’ve got front row seats to every minute of it (to borrow a Bill Weber saying). The Sylvania 300 from Loudon, New Hampshire is going to be one of the most influential races of the season in determining who takes home the Nextel Cup in November. If precedence accounts for anything, the winner of this race is going to find himself in very, very good shape for the Chase, while an accident can erase any title hopes for a slew of contenders. Last year, Kurt Busch jumpstarted his Chase run with a win at New Hampshire; Lord knows he wants to repeat that feat again. Of course, he has plenty of competition in the form of Tony Stewart, the hottest driver in NASCAR right now. Tony won at New Hampshire in a rout last July, and he would like to make his mark on the Chase early. Ditto Matt Kenseth, who will start fourth. Kenseth had to race like a madman down the stretch to gain entry, and he’ll be damned if he’s going to crash out of the Chase at the first race.

Oh, let’s not forget a couple of drivers who have just as much to fight for. Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are racing to regain their integrity after flat-out terrible 2005 campaigns. Gordon in particular is in for a wild ride, what with new crew chief Steve Letarte calling the shots for a departed Robbie Loomis. In 1999, Gordon’s long-time crew chief Ray Evernham left the crew, and Gordon responded with two wins straight out of the gate. He hopes for a similar run this season, now that his title hopes have been vanquished. He starts second, and has a strong car. Dale Earnhardt Jr. also has something to prove now that he has found himself on the outs with the Chase. With the return of Tony Eury Jr. to the helm of the “good ship” Budweiser, Junior is looking for his own resurgence in the final ten races of 2005. There are two other drivers that I’d look out for, as well: Joe Nemechek and Scott Riggs are two potential spoilers that can factor into the finish at New Hampshire today. Nemechek in particular is overdue for some good luck; he’s ran incredibly well at many races this season, though his bids to win have been shot down by incredibly bad luck, normally related to tire failure. Poor Joe will likely murder someone if tire trouble sinks his efforts today. Scott Riggs falls into the Kyle Busch category, as the rookie who is most likely due for a victory. Riggs has come close before, with a pole at Martinsville and several Top Five efforts. New Hampshire is a tough place to pass at, but with a fifth place starting position, Riggs can hang around in the top five all day long, and at that point it could be anyone’s race.

There will be at least two Chase contenders in the Top Five by race’s end, though I’m going all out with four of the top five cars in the Sylvania 300 belonging to Chase contenders. This is where my previous point plays in, with teammates. Roush runs this track well, and Kurt Busch loves this place. Tony Stewart is a madman these days, turning everything into gold, though I’d be concerned if he peaked too soon. Carl Edwards seems to have lady luck riding with him when it counts, and Jeff Gordon is extremely fast at New Hampshire. Having said that, Gordon isn’t in the Chase… and the car he owns is. Jimmie Johnson is running well this week, too, and with a fast teammate running up front as well, you can’t help but think that his day will be instantly easier than it could have been. Stewart and Busch will challenge, and Gordon will run well, but Jimmie Johnson will win this race.

Predicted Top Five
01. Jimmie Johnson
02. Tony Stewart
03. Jeff Gordon
04. Carl Edwards
05. Kurt Busch

Bud Pole Qualifying Results from New Hampshire
01. #20 Tony Stewart – The Home Depot Chevrolet
02. #24 Jeff Gordon – DuPont Chevrolet
03. #8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Budweiser Chevrolet
04. #17 Matt Kenseth – DeWalt Power Tools Ford
05. #10 Scott Riggs – Valvoline Chevrolet
06. #38 Elliott Sadler – M&M’s Ford
07. #2 Rusty Wallace – Miller Lite Dodge
08. #19 Jeremy Mayfield – Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
09. #29 Kevin Harvick – GM Goodwrench Chevrolet
10. #48 Jimmie Johnson – Lowe’s Chevrolet

11. #01 Joe Nemechek – U.S. Army Chevrolet
12. #97 Kurt Busch – Sharpie Ford
13. #12 Ryan Newman – Mobil 1/ALLTEL Dodge
14. #31 Jeff Burton – Cingular Wireless Chevrolet
15. #6 Mark Martin – Viagra Ford
16. #07 Dave Blaney – Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet
17. #18 Bobby Labonte – Interstate Batteries Chevrolet
18. #43 Jeff Green – Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge
19. #7 Robby Gordon – Jim Beam Chevrolet
20. #42 Jamie McMurray – Texaco Havoline Dodge

21. #9 Kasey Kahne – Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
22. #0 Mike Bliss – NetZero Best Buy Chevrolet
23. #41 Casey Mears – Target Dodge
24. #99 Carl Edwards – Roush Racing Ford
25. #4 Mike Wallace – Lucas Oil Products Chevrolet
26. #16 Greg Biffle – National Guard Ford
27. #77 Travis Kvapil – Kodak/Jasper Engines Dodge
28. #21 Ricky Rudd – Motorcraft Genuine Parts Ford
29. #11 J.J. Yeley – FedEx Express Chevrolet
30. #5 Kyle Busch – Kellogg’s Chevrolet

31. #25 Brian Vickers – GMAC/ditech.com Chevrolet
32. #32 Bobby Hamilton Jr. – Tide Chevrolet
33. #88 Dale Jarrett – UPS Ford
34. #151 Stuart Kirby – Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil Chevrolet
35. #175 Wayne Anderson – Rinaldi Air Conditioning Dodge
36. #15 Michael Waltrip – NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet
37. #40 Sterling Marlin – Coors Light Dodge
38. #34 Ted Christopher – Mach One Inc. Chevrolet
39. #192 Joey McCarthy – TrimSpa Chevrolet
40. #49 Ken Schrader – Schwan’s Home Service Dodge
41. #22 Scott Wimmer – Caterpillar Dodge
42. #45 Mark Green – Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge
43. #50 Jimmy Spencer – Allied Steel Structures Dodge

Speed Addict’s NASCAR Power Rankings [9/10-9/17]

01. Tony Stewart
The closest thing NASCAR has to a professional wrestler.

02. Kurt Busch
The closest thing NASCAR has to a professional water boy.

03. Greg Biffle
Is it just me, or is anyone else sort of… disturbed by the “sub in the lap” commercial? I know Subway is scrumdiddlyumptious, but seriously…

04. Rusty Wallace
Rusty says that 2005 really is his final season, unlike Mark Martin. Good for Rusty for sticking to his word – I couldn’t put up with him for another season.

05. Matt Kenseth
Hey, kids! It’s Quagmire! Oh, wait, it’s Opie Taylor, my bad.

06. Elliott Sadler
A good run at Richmond goes for nothing. In other news, M & M’s melt in your mouth, not in your hand.

07. Kyle Busch
Oh, Lord… is one Busch not enough?

08. Mark Martin
Marky Mark sets his sights on another 2nd place finish in the Points Standings.

09. Carl Edwards
Accusations that Carl Edwards listens to R. Kelly in the race car are unsubstantiated at this point in time.

10. Ryan Newman
Rocketman has his work cut out for him. You see, he actually has to finish well, not just start well.

Victory Lap for the Pimps
Enjoy a Column from Phillip Ciprotti! with a refreshing Coca-Cola and a copy of Red Dawn!

Nicky P. spreads the love and boldly predicts Carolina over New England. To borrow a Patrick N. expression, the guy has serious sackage going on to predict that outcome. Pomazak.

Slayer should write a column exclusively about the pictures he digs up for his columns. Lord knows everyone could use some busty, evil lesbian nurses every once in while. Keep on Fighting the Good Fight!

Tierney does the baseball thing. Riding the Pine.

Memo to Eric: you can take solace in the fact that Chicago is probably going to finish better than Green Bay. Whoo.

Since God was a bit lazy (he’s just like me!) this week and slacked off on the writing duties, here’s a classic pimp from way back yonder. May Bowtie Wearing Man-Childs and Photoshop Be With You.

Victory Lane
Thus it begins. Check the site over the next week for the RaceDay Pulse from New Hampshire, and be back next Saturday for updated coverage of the Chase! Until then, I leave you with his picture. It symbolizes the approaching storm; it’s called the Chase for the Nextel Cup, kiddies. Get in while you can, because it’s a non-stop race to the finish from here.

Cool pic, huh? Peace, homies.

Join our newsletter

never miss the latest news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary for Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games!