TOP 30 DRIVERS

COKE ZERO 400 from DAYTONA

 

  1. KURT BUSCH #41
  2. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  3. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  4. DALE EARNHARDT JR #88
  5. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  6. AUSTIN DILLION #3
  7. JOEY LOGANO #22
  8. RYAN NEWMAN #31
  9. KYLE BUSCH #18
  10. CASEY MEARS #13
  11. JAMIE McMURRAY #1
  12. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  13. MATT KENSETH #20
  14. CLINT BOWYER #15
  15. MARTIN TRUEX #78
  16. CHASE ELLIOTT #24
  17. RYAN BLANEY #21
  18. CARL EDWARDS #19
  19. GREG BIFFLE #16
  20. RICKY STENHOUSE #17
  21. KASEY KAHNE #5
  22. PAUL MENARD #27
  23. ARIC ALMIROLA #43
  24. TONY STEWART #14
  25. DANICA PATRICK #10
  26. LANDON CASSILL #38
  27. DAVID RAGAN #23
  28. TREVOR BAYNE #6
  29. A. J. ALLMENDINGER #47
  30. REGAN SMITH #7

 

 

 

 

Friday we break down the Top 5 drivers to watch.

 

*STILL MUST QUALIFY

TOP TEN TEAMS

TOP 10 TEAMS POST SONOMA

  1. TEAM PENSKE (LW #1)
  2. FURNITURE ROW RACING (LW #2)
  3. STEWART HAAS RACING (LW #3)
  4. HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS (LW #5)
  5. JOE GIBBS RACING (LW #4)

 

  1. WOOD BROTHERS (#6)
  2. CHIP GANASSI RACING (LW #7)
  3. RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING (LW #8)
  4. JTG RACING (LW #9)
  5. ROUSH FENWAY RACING (LW #10)

 

Usually a road course race shakes things up quite a bit. But this week we see very little change. Team Penske remain at #1 for the second straight week. Furniture Row and Stewart Haas Racing also stay in place. Hendrick Motorsports and  Joe Gibbs Racing trade positions. The Wood Brothers, Chip Ganassi Racing, Richard Childress Racing, JTG Racing and Roush Fenway Racing all keep their spots this week. We should see some changes coming out of Daytona next week.

 

These are the Top 10 Teams, Thursday look for our Top 30 drivers at Daytona.

TOP TEN DRIVERS by TRACK TYPE

TOP 10: RESTRICTOR PLATE TRACKS

  1. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  2. CLINT BOWYER #15
  3. DALE EARNHARDT Jr. #88
  4. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  5. KURT BUSCH #41
  6. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  7. AUSTIN DILLION #3
  8. RYAN NEWMAN #31
  9. KYLE BUSCH #18
  10. JOEY LOGANO #22

 

Top drivers 10 on Restrictor Plate tracks, Thursday look for our Top 30 rankings for Saturday’s COKE ZERO 400 from Daytona Int Speedway.

RACE PREVIEW

DAY 10.1

COKE ZERO (Firecracker) 400

DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

JULY 2nd, 7:30PM on NBC-TV

2.5 MILES, 31 Degrees of Banking

If it is 4th of July it must be time for the Firecracker 400 – oops make that the Coke Zero 400. Whatever you call it, nothing says summer like this race. I remember many a 4th listening to this race on the radio wherever I was. I remember even more vividly sweating profusely in the stands at Daytona on a couple of very hot July race weekends. As much as I revere tradition, I fully supported the idea to change this to a night race. Not only does it add to any holiday weekend to have a night race, it makes it a much more comfortable race to attend. This year we are back to Saturday night and under the lights this race shines. This is our third restrictor plate race of the year and we have eleven different winners in sixteen races this season. There is a very good chance that we’ll have a first-time winner at this race – after all it was five years ago that Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 in a partial-season ride and David Ragan had his first win later that year at the 400. Trevor’s win was the start of a three-race streak for Ford and Roush Yates Motors. The Hendrick Motorsports engine shop then had four straight wins with their Chevrolets. Ford and Roush Yates came back with two more wins: one from Richard Petty Motorsports and one from Team Penske. Last year Dale Earnhardt Jr. notched another win for Hendrick Motorsports. Coming into this year’s Daytona 500 we’d seen a classic Roush Yates-Ford vs. HMS-Chevy battle. Each had seen five wins each in the last five years. It was fun then to see two Toyota’s finish within an eighth of an inch of each other at the finish line, with Denny Hamlin taking the win. Will Toyota continue to interrupt the Ford vs. Chevy war? And will we see a 12th winner for the season or a return victor to Victory Lane? We’ll know Sunday night.

Tuesday look for our Top 10 drivers on restrictor plate tracks in advance of the Coke Zero 400, Thursday we’ll rank the Top 30 drivers for that race.

TOP FIVE DRIVERS

The #5 driver, is my #1 road course driver, #15 Clint Bowyer. Clint is not usually thought of as a top road course driver, but his history racing on dirt tracks has helped him to be successful here. He won here four years ago and in his ten starts has that one win as well as six Top 5’s.

My #4 driver is a road course winner, just not here, #4 Kevin Harvick. Kevin won at the other road course, Watkins Glen in 2006, but has yet to win here in a cup race. Kevin from nearby Bakersfield did win here in the old Southwest tour in 1998 but you know he would love to get a cup win. He finished 4th here last year and is #3 hottest over the last six weeks.

The #3 driver is the most recent winner on the circuit, #22 Joey Logano. Joey has seven starts here and only one Top 5, but he really is getting better. His one Top 5 was his fifth place finish here last year. He is ranked #4 on road courses.

My #2 pick won here six years ago, #48 Jimmie Johnson. Jimmie has 14 starts here, one win, and four Top 5’s, which is why Jimmie has the #1 average finish over the last seven years. But, Jimmie is only #19 hottest over the last six weeks.

My #1 driver to watch has really seen his season just get better, #41 Kurt Busch. He has won already this year and now he sits #2 in points and looks like he’ll make the “Chase for the Cup”. He is also #2 hottest and finished second here last year. He has 15 starts in Sonoma, a 2011 win and seven Top 5 finishes.

 

Monday look for our preview of the Coke Zero 400 from Daytona Int. Speedway.

TOP 30 DRIVERS

TOYOTA/SAVE MART 350:SONOMA RACEWAY

 

  1. KURT BUSCH #41
  2. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  3. JOEY LOGANO #22
  4. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  5. CLINT BOWYER #15
  6. KASEY KAHNE #5
  7. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  8. CARL EDWARDS #19
  9. RYAN NEWMAN #31
  10. CHASE ELLIOTT #24
  11. KYLE BUSCH #18
  12. DALE EARNHARDT JR #88
  13. MARTIN TRUEX #78
  14. JAMIE MCMURRAY # 1
  15. GREG BIFFLE #16
  16. AUSTIN DILLION #3
  17. PAUL MENARD #27
  18. KYLE LARSON #42
  19. MATT KENSETH #20
  20. TONY STEWART #14
  21. RYAN BLANEY #21*
  22. TREVOR BAYNE #6
  23. DANICA PATRICK #10
  24. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  25. ARIC ALMIROLA #43
  26. A. J. ALLMENDINGER #47
  27. CASEY MEARS #13
  28. RICKY STENHOUSE #17
  29. COLE WHITT #98*
  30. REGAN SMITH#7

 

*STILL MUST QUALIFY

Friday we break down the Top 5 drivers to watch in Sunday’s Save Mart/Toyota 350 from Sonoma.

TOP TEN TEAMS

TOP 10 TEAMS POST MICHIGAN

  1. TEAM PENSKE (LW #2)
  2. FURNITURE ROW RACING (LW #3)
  3. STEWART HAAS RACING (LW #6)
  4. JOE GIBBS RACING (LW #1)
  5. HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS (LW #4)

 

  1. WOOD BROTHERS RACING (LW #5)
  2. CHIP GANASSI RACING (LW #7)
  3. RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING (LW #9)
  4. JTG RACING (LW #8)
  5. ROUSH FENWAY RACING (LW #10)

 

After four weeks in a row at #1 Joe Gibbs Racing give it back to Team Penske. With the Captain and his crew retaking the #1 spot JGR falls to #4. Furniture Row Racing moves up a place to #2. Stewart Haas Racing make a stunning three place move to #3. With JGR at #4 Hendrick Motorsports get moved to #5. Hard to believe only one HMS driver has found victory lane this year. Wood Brothers Racing drop a place to #6. Chip Ganassi Racing hold at #7. Richard Childress Racing move up a place to #8. JTG Racing drop back a position to #9. Lastly at #10 we find Roush Fenway holding on to the last spot in the Top 10.

 

 

These are the Top 10 Teams going into Sonoma, Thursday look for our Top 30 drivers at Sonoma Raceway.

TOP TEN DRIVERS by TRACK TYPE

TOP 10: ROAD COURSE TRACKS

  1. CLINT BOWYER #15
  2. KURT BUSCH #41
  3. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  4. JOEY LOGANO #22
  5. CARL EDWARDS #19
  6. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  7. GREG BIFFLE #16
  8. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  9. KYLE BUSCH #18
  10. MARTIN TRUEX #78

 

Top 10 Drivers on Road Course tracks, Thursday look for our Top 30 rankings for Sunday’s Toyota/SavMart 350 from Sonoma Raceway.

RACE PREVIEW

toyotasavemart350_thumb

TOYOTA SAVE MART 350

SONOMA RACEWAY

Jun 26th, 3:00PM Charlotte Time FS 1 TV

1.99 Miles 10 turns

Twice a year NASCAR makes a detour from the standard oval and gets its swerve on – on a road course. No more just turn left and go. Instead of going counter-clockwise like you would on an oval, road courses go clockwise and twist and turn the whole way. Here at Sonoma Raceway the drivers have 10 turns on an almost 2 mile course in a truly beautiful part of California. We can expect some new faces as road racing regulars from non-NASCAR series insert themselves into the fray. Most of these will be drivers who will replace cup drivers who don’t feel up to the road course challenge. Eleven drivers starting this race have previously won a road course at the Sprint Cup level. Eight have of them have won here and three have won at Watkins Glen, the other road course. Just two, Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart have won at both. Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, and the now defunct Michael Waltrip Racing have all won here twice in the last ten years. Toyota seems to have a road course advantage here with four wins in the last ten years, the most of any manufacturer. Will Toyota keep the edge here in wine country? We’ll know on Sunday.

Tuesday June 21st, look for our Top 10 drivers on road course tracks.

TOP FIVE DRIVERS

TOP 5 DRIVERS TO WATCH: MICHIGAN INT SPEEDWAY

The #5 driver is coming off a big second place finish at Pocano, #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. has done pretty well here lately, where half of his last eight races were Top 5’s. All of his last four were Top 10’s. He has 33 starts, two wins, and eight Top 5’s.  He seems to have found the right touch and he should keep his luck here in the Irish Hills.

The #4 driver is the most recent winner here, #20 Matt Kenseth.  Matt has 33 starts, three wins, and 14 Top 5’s. He took his Toyota to victory lane last August. He is rated #4 for me on tracks like this and he is fourth hottest over the last six weeks. Oh, and he finished 4th here in this race last year.

My #3 driver is my #1 rated driver on tracks like this, #22 Joey Logano. Joey has 14 starts, one win, and three Top 5’s. His last six races were all Top 10 and his three Top 5’s came in this stretch. Joey is not sitting on a win so look for him to gamble on pit strategy towards the end of this race. The most over-used phrase of the weekend will be “track position.”

My #2 driver to watch grew up here in Michigan, #2 Brad Keselowski. This is Brad’s home track, but he has struggled a little bit here. He has 13 starts, no wins, and just three Top 5’s. His three Top 5’s came in the last nine races though, and all nine were Top 15’s. Brad should take every bit of that Penske power and have a huge finish.

My #1 driver is the top driver this year in points, #4 Kevin Harvick. Kevin is #1 in points, #5 hottest, and #2 on tracks like. Kevin has 30 starts, one win, and just eight Top 5’s. But here is the more important stat – five of his last six finishes here were second places finishes. In total he’s been the bridesmaid five times. Never count Kevin Harvick out on a downforce track. I think he’s ready to be the bride.

 

 

Monday look for our preview of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 from Sonoma.