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NASCAR

Richmond and The Gloves Are Off!

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NASCAR has finally returned to Richmond. And the two wild-card positions and updated points system did precisely what NASCAR intended by keeping the final Chase spots in question until the very end of the regular season and Brad Keselowski and Clint Bowyer did their best to add their own measure of drama before Tuesday’s AdvoCare 500.

But the final regular season race at Richmond has always been intense. And why should this one be any different? Richmond may well be the perfect venue for the final regular season race. It’s a short track that behaves like a superspeedway, combining the best of both worlds. Drivers are never out of traffic for long, so they have to set their cars up to run in multiple grooves to maneuver through traffic. That ability to run in multiple grooves is part of what makes this track behave like a speedway. Drivers can set the car up to run the high groove and sustain their momentum, or they can run low and take the short way around the track. Richmond might not only be the perfect venue for this race, it may be the perfect racetrack in that regard.

The weekend at Richmond will be wild, but most of that rowdiness will happen under the surface. Think of this race like a duck swimming across a lake: on the surface, the teams and drivers will appear cool and collected, but underneath the water, their feet will be frantically kicking. Sometimes, that extra effort causes one of them to make a catastrophic mistake that ends behind the wall, but on other occasions, it is the boost needed to get them into Victory Lane. So who are the favorites?

Favorites

This short, flat track has become the domain of Joe Gibbs Racing in recent years — at least where Victory Lane is concerned. So of course my favorite picks of the weekend would come out of the JGR camp.

Kyle Busch aka Rowdy has proven throughout the year that he will drive the wheels off of any race car you give him and he has been to victory lane the last 2 times at Richmond. And with losing the points lead on Tuesday don’t count out the #18 car with their special paint scheme for the 9/11 remembrance.

Denny Hamlin comes into Richmond knowing that the Chase is theirs to lose. Knowing that it is nearly impossible to make up the ground he needs to get into the top 10 in points, but a victory is nevertheless important to the No. 11. The team languished through the end of the summer, which put their playoff hopes in jeopardy, but if he could win this week he regains some of his momentum even though he won’t get a chance to carry the bonus into the playoffs.

Between them, Busch and Hamlin have been the only winners on this track since the start of the 2009 season. Hamlin has two of those victories, both of which came during this final race of the regular season. Busch won in the spring, but the contest was between these two with Hamlin finishing second. In fact, these drivers have been one another’s toughest competitors in the past two events with Busch finishing second to Hamlin last fall.

Dark Horses

Clint Bowyer has stirred the pot. How so? He’s verbally taken on Juan Pablo Montoya for the actions that happened on the track Tuesday at Atlanta. Clint has a lot riding on Richmond and needs the win. He has the mind set going into the weekend has he could care less and RCR better get through to the soon-to-be free agent driver. If not, Clint may have a run in with Juan Pablo.

In the one season during the history of the playoffs in which Jeff Gordon did not qualify for the Chase, his Achilles Heel was Richmond. In 2005, he finished 39th in the spring, but he was still in contention for one of the coveted berths when the Series rolled back into the track for the final regular season race. He finished 30th in that event and the next year, he failed to crack the top 30 in either race. His next seven attempts were much better with a streak of top-10s and an average finish of 5.4. Unfortunately, his past two attempts on the three-quarter mile oval have been disappointing with a 12th last fall and a 39th this spring. But don’t count him out! He just won at Atlanta on Tuesday and he has proved that he is the man on a mission!

Underdogs

Well, I consider Dale Jr. an underdog just because he really is in the hot seat. He sits 9th in the points and desperately needs the win he has been searching for and never found this season. The guy continues to have the rollercoaster year where he’s running good in segments and then is running laps down and finishes terrible. Dale Jr. needs the win.

Other Underdogs this weekend would include Tony Stewart, AJ Allmendinger, and all the other Wild Card bubble drivers.

After Saturday night, the Chase will be finalized and we will be gearing up for what is to be the best NASCAR Chase yet.

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NASCAR

Kyle Busch Wins Second NASCAR Cup Title

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Kyle Busch

Kylke Busch, who is arguably the most polarizing driver in NASCAR, won his second Cup title on Sunday and took the opportunity to celebrate the victory with fans, a big change from his first win back in 2015 when Busch ruined the massive championship banner by doing smoke-filled burnouts.

“It messed up the flag and everything, and I wanted to get a good shot with the flag everywhere, make sure everybody could get a good shot of the flag because we’re the 2019 champions,” Busch said (h/t ESPN/Associated Press). “There are always your doubters. There are always your haters. You know what? This one’s for ‘Rowdy Nation’ because you guys are the best. Thank you so much.”

Busch won the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to snap a 21-race losing streak, doing so as teammates Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. were slowed by pit-road issues.

Busch joined seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson as the only active drivers with multiple titles.

“You’ve got to be perfect. One mistake probably cost us the championship,” Truex said. “I’ve never had that happen. I don’t even know what to say. It doesn’t drive good with the left front on the right front, though, I can tell you that. It’s very tight.”

“I feel like I did all I could. I don’t feel I could have done a better job. I didn’t leave anything out there,” Hamlin said. “I was thinking we got a chance, and it just didn’t work out. We got a little aggressive there, and it cost us.”

“Everybody always says you never give up. We’re no different. We just do what we can do each and every week,” Busch said. “Sometimes we may not be the best. Sometimes we may not have the right track position. We had a really good car, and I could race around and move around. That’s what’s so special about Homestead Miami Speedway is the ability to put on a show.

“I felt like we did that there racing those guys. I know it kind of dulled out toward the end. It was exciting enough from my seat. It was a lot of fun to cap off such an amazing year.”

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When you’re looking to be ranked among the best female streamers, or looking to get your cosplay ranked in the best cosplay directory, then Gamactica can help! Whether you’re looking for streaming equipment or to network, the community has it all.

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NASCAR

Tony Stewart Punches Heckler During Race Track Fight

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Tony Stewart

NASCAR superstar Tony Stewart, a three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, got into a fight with a heckler at a Jackson, Minnesota racetrack on Friday night, which saw the 48-year old driver punch a heckler in the face.

Stewart, who was the center of attention as that Jackson Motorplex put on “Tony Stewart Night”, was driving in a spring car race when his engine apparently blew out after only one lap.

Following the race, Stewart was signing autographs for fans when a heckler approached Stewart and, according to eye witnesses, began cussing Stewart out for “quitting” only one lap into the race.

Stewart responded to the colorful tirade, which included calling Stewart a “piece of sh#t”, but saying that; “I blew out my engine, you f#cking asshole. Do you want to pay for it?”

The exchange continued and escalated further when Stewart hauled off and punched the heckler in the face, with it all caught on video, courtesy of TMZ Sports.

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Auto Racing

Grading 2018′s New Driver/ Team Pairings – Alex Bowman/ Hendrick Motorsports

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Undeniably the apple of an entire nation’s eye for over two decades, Dale Earnhardt Jr poignantly announced in the spring of 2017 he would step away from driving in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at the end of the 2017 season.

 

Once the initial shock value wore off, reality set in. Who could possibly fill the shoes of the sport’s most popular driver? Dale Jr’s lasting impression on legions of fans young and old is unparalleled. Ultimately the conundrum of the century would centre around who might fill the gargantuan shoes little E would leave behind.

Dale Jr’s departure from Hendrick Motorsports left one the sport’s most coveted rides up for grabs. Immediately the rumour mill was set ablaze with potential candidates loyal Dale Jr supporters fancied.  Following three months of intense speculation, Rick Hendrick would reveal Dale Jr’s replacement in late July 2017.

 

Next man up for the #88 team a tall lanky fella from Tucson Arizona.  Chances are y’all probably remember him as the kid that subbed for Dale Jr while he recovered from concussion-like symptoms that kept him from the seat of the Nationwide Chevrolet in the fall of 2016.

 

Certainly no stranger to the Monster Energy Cup Series (Made 81 Career starts from 2014-2016), Alex Bowman makes his triumphed return as a full time driver on the circuit for the first time in nearly two years. Driving the #88 car for Hendrick Motorsports axiomatically elevates Bowman from enchanting underdog to proverbial impact player. No longer a low man on the totem pole expeditious results at HMS would give credence to an emerging young star hoping for a rebirth following past failures with BK Racing & Tommy Baldwin Racing.

 

Thrust into a precarious position at the age of 21, Alex Bowman exhibited incredible poise in the face of adversity. Visibly Alex was not equipped for the competitive environment that cup racing bestowed upon him back in 2014. One quality season (2013 – 2 top 5’s, 6 top 10’s 2 poles, 11th in the driver standings) in the Xfinity Series cannot enumerate impending success on the other side.

Instead of licking his wounds Bowman bided his time wisely eventually earning the opportunity to sub for Dale Jr in the fall of 2016.  What could have easily morphed into catastrophic gaffe #3 for Bowman positively altered his career saving him from infinite anonymity.

 

In the 10 races (2016) Alex piloted the #88 car he made quite an accounting for himself (3 top 10’s, 1 pole) earning the respect and confidence of both Mr. Hendrick and Dale Jr.

 

The simple formula for success in 2018 relies squarely on the shoulders of Alexander Bowman.

Bowman’s familiarity with crew chief Greg Ives and the entire #88 team perpetuates some of the chemistry established back in 2016.  A contingent of smart fans out there including myself firmly believe Alex Bowman was on his way to capturing the checked flag at his home track(Phoenix) in November of 2016. On this day Bowman dazzled, starting the race from the pole ultimately leading 194 laps on his way to a career best 6th place finish.

 

Even though the former self-proclaimed bad luck Bowman left the desert without the checked flag, indisputably he walked away a winner.  Bowman’s courageous showing converted the cynics into believers. Without this fine performance in the bag Bowman could have found himself easily lost in the shuffle never to be heard from again.

Perseverance spearheaded the rise of Bowman mania. The whimsical wave of momentum Bowman’s been on since that race at Phoenix spilled over into 2017. Bowman turned heads in February finishing third in the Clash at Daytona, once again piloting the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet. He would also capture his first career Xfinity Series victory at Charlotte in the fall of 2017 driving for Chip Ganassi.

 

Perceptibly this young buck is completely equipped for the fate that awaits him once the green flag drops on the 2018 Monster Energy Cup Series at Daytona in February.

Rick Hendrick has all the confidence in the world in Bowman’s capabilities. Mr. H could have taken the high road and hired an established veteran driver, instead trusting Bowman’s youthful exuberance lets the entire racing world know he’s committed for the long haul.

Alex Bowman has the credentials to resuscitate Rick Hendrick’s anaemic #88 team from the ashes. Fresh blood can unite an entire nation of fans that are starving for a breath of fresh air.

 

Don’t Be Dale Jr, Be Alex Bowman. That’s paramount.

 

Alex Bowman has an entire nation on his side. So watcha  gonna do when Bowmanmania runs wild on you?

 

Final grade – B

 

Photo courtesy of Autoweek

 

 

 

 

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