Saturday, November 11, 2017

Oops! My Dream Season project has hit a roadblock as I start over

It's been a while - the beginning of September to be exact - since I launched my best guess as to who would races and championships in a mythical NASCAR season in which the best of the best drivers in history "compete" against each other.  I ran the simulation - and wrote reports on them - based on a set of rules I put together here.

Unfortunately, those rules turned out to be flawed, leading me to scrap my work and start all over again.

The biggest problem has to do with the stage-racing format that NASCAR began this year in all of its top series.  If you read that post, you noticed that the results of the stages depended on the historical data of all the drivers in those particular races of those particular series.  Many of them had such records to fall back on, but many others did not, and the consequences were obvious in some cases:
  • Herb Thomas, a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame (class of 2013) for his great success in the 1950s, was given an automatic last-place finish in one of the races of the Can-Am Duel at Daytona because his career effectively ended before the track opened.  Per the rules, the only chance he had to make the Daytona 500 in my scenario was to have a fast-enough lap in Sunday's previous qualifying.  He did not, and therefore, he failed to qualify.  Most importantly, the purpose of the qualifying race - to determine who would make the main race among those not yet locked in - was defeated.
  • Adam Petty - one of my other full-time drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series - is locked out of receiving any chance at stage points due to having made one career start in that series. (More races were planned, but he was killed in a race practice crash in May 2000). 
  • Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne, and Justin Allgaier similarly had limited opportunities to get stage points due to having few (Logano and Kahne) or no (Allgaier) career starts in the Camping World Truck Series, for which they "race" full time.

So what I will do from now on is to base all race results on the same criteria used for the supplemental statistical data - averages from the five-year period from 2012 to 2016.  Whatever finishing positions were attained by drivers in the same starting positions over that five-year period will be averaged together and the driver corresponding to the position with the best averages will win the stages and the race.  Points will be awarded to the 10 best averages after each stage and to all drivers in descending order at the end of each race.

Playoffs will be conducted under the rules outlined on the original page and the procedures will not change.

This week, I replayed the first nine MENCS races.  While full reports are pending, here is a glimpse based on my calculations:
  • Dale Earnhardt unfortunately does not get the Daytona sweep.  He still wins the Daytona 500 and the Advance Auto Parts Clash (the latter is the only race still completely using historical data, as that was available for all drivers), but he falls to third place in Duel race #1.  Jimmie Johnson is the new winner, and Ned Jarrett finished second.  However, had Earnhardt won race #1, he would have finished 18th in the "Great American Race," and would have had to beat the new five-minute crash clock just to get that; he would have been one of 17 cars involved in the "big one" toward the start of stage 3.
  • Two drivers earned "perfect scores"; that is, wins in both stages then in the race itself  - Earnhardt in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond, and before that, Davey Allison in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas.  Under my original rules, Allison would have received no stage points as he never started there.  In fact, he was not even alive when Texas Motor Speedway opened in 1997; he had been dead for four years at that point.
  • Teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon had taken over the championship lead and were separated by just three points.  The key to their success was by dominating the stage points; Gordon was first with 95 points while Johnson was second with 88.  The battle to accumulate race points was very tight.

I plan to replay the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series races next week, and then the writeups will resume shortly after that.  In the meantime, I will delete all the posts reflecting past results.

(Construction barricade picture courtesy Uline)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Where this year's playoff drivers would be during the Dream Season

Believe me, at some point I will return to race-by-race summaries of the season, as "NASCAR goes west" to Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Auto Club Speedway.  But I feel that at this point I have what amounts to more timely information to give you at this point.

The three real-life seasons of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series, and Camping World Truck Series are all well underway with their playoffs.  The MENCS second round will end on Sunday at Kansas Speedway, at which the field will be reduced from 12 drivers to 8.  The NXS second round, which has 8 drivers, is to begin Saturday on the same track.  The NCWTS has also gone from the second round to the third with 6 drivers left standing for the title; the playoffs there resume on Oct. 28 at Martinsville Speedway.

In all, 36 drivers qualified for the combined playoff fields this year.  However, the introduction of all-time greats to the starting fields in all of the series will cause a ripple effect that will cause so many of these to have to seek rides elsewhere.

When the music stops, in what chairs will they sit?  Let's find out.

(Drivers' names are listed in the order of their original playoff seedings.)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
  • Martin Truex, Jr. - #1 OneMain Financial Chevrolet in Xfinity Series (Truex won the series championship in 2004 and '05 driving for stepmother- and son Teresa Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.; Dale Jr. himself now owns the team)
  • Kyle Larson - #12 Chevrolet in Camping World Truck Series (Larson has won races in all three series; his truck wins have come at Rockingham in 2013 and Eldora in 2016)
  • Kyle Busch - #18 Toyota in NXS; he won the 2008 series title in that car prior to joining the Cup series and taking the championship in 2015
  • Brad Keselowski - #22 Discount Tire Ford in NXS; he won the 2010 series title in that car prior to joining the Cup series and winning the season trophy in 2012
  • Jimmie Johnson - #48 Lowe's Chevrolet; the only one of these 16 drivers to be in the same car, with same owner, sponsor, and crew chief in this simulation
  • Kevin Harvick - #2 Chevrolet in NXS; he is another champion of both NXS (2001, '07) and MENCS (2014)
  • Denny Hamlin - #20 Toyota (Hisense for most races) in NXS
  • Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. - shares #6 NXS car with Mark Martin; another two-time series champ (2011, '12)
  • Ryan Blaney - #66 Ford in NCWTS; Blaney was once a series full-timer and held the record for youngest race winner (age 18 at Iowa in 2012)
  • Chase Elliott - #52 Chevrolet in NXS; in 2014, he became the series' youngest champion ever, having turned 18 just two months before the Daytona season opener
  • Ryan Newman - #7 in Whelen Modified Series; has occasionally raced in the series with four career wins.  I have him going there when a reshuffling of teams ended up with the late Harry Scott, Jr. as owner of the version 1.0 team in what is now NXS; Newman was then "replaced" by Harry's son Brian.  Newman will have a limited NXS series as of the Las Vegas race in and around his modifieds schedule.
  • Kurt Busch - #97 Monster Energy/John Deere Ford; "reunion" with former car owner Jack Roush
  • Kasey Kahne - #21 Allegiant Air Chevrolet in NCWTS; I had Kahne winning the title in version 1.0 of the truck series; has five wins in six starts in real life
  • Austin Dillon - #21 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet in NXS; won 2013 series title despite having no wins that season; was NCWTS champion in 2011
  • Matt Kenseth - #34 Ford in MENCS; was with Roush Fenway Racing in version 1.0, but was cut due to limits as to team size (yet another new wrinkle of version 2.0); RFR retained Martin, Busch, Ned Jarrett, and Jeff Burton
  • Jamie McMurray - #42 ENEOS Chevrolet in NXS

Xfinity Series
  • William Byron - K&N Pro Filters East Series; he was series champ in 2015
  • Justin Allgaier - #19 Ford in NCWTS
  • Elliott Sadler - #01 Chevrolet owned by Johnny Davis in NXS
  • Daniel Hemric - cut his teeth in Legends cars, so probably ends up back there
  • Brennan Poole - ARCA Racing Series, where he won six races and finished third in the final 2012 standings
  • Ryan Reed - has experience in both ARCA and sports cars, so he'll find a ride in one of those
  • Jeremy Clements - would be another ARCA driver; his 2008 win in that series was his last in national competition before his improbable triumph at Road America in 2017
  • Blake Koch - K&N Pro Filters West Series, which he ran full-time in 2009
  • Cole Custer - KNPSW, which he ran full-time in 2013 as a 15-year-old
  • Matt Tifft - K&N Pro Filters East Series, which he ran full-time in 2013
  • Brendan Gaughan - #62 South Point Chevrolet in NCWTS
  • Michael Annett - nothing full-time; may jump in for occasional NXS or even MENCS runs

Camping World Truck Series
  • Christopher Bell - full-time in dirt racing
  • Johnny Sauter - part-timer in series; I have had him in the #23 and #99 trucks for various races
  • John Hunter Nemechek - "independent" late model sanctions
  • Matt Crafton - #88 Menards Toyota in NCWTS
  • Chase Briscoe - ARCA; was 2016 series champion
  • Ben Rhodes - KNPSE, which he ran full-time in 2014
  • Austin Cindric - I understand he has lots of sports-car experience, so he'll end up there somehow
  • Kaz Grala - KNPSE; he was a full-timer there for two years (2014 and '15)

Saturday, September 30, 2017

NASCAR Dream Season: Kyle Busch ends disappointing day

The back half of the Atlanta Motor Speedway doubleheader on Saturday, February 24 was the Camping World Truck Series' Active Pest Control 200.  This race was first run in 2004, discontinued in 2012, then restored in 2015.

February 24
Atlanta Motor Speedway
200.2 miles/130 laps (stages: 40, 40, 50)

In the end, the Dream Season version of this event also proved to be the back end of a bummer day for future NASCAR Hall of Famer Kyle Busch, who finished second - again.

Minutes after finishing "first loser" to Brad Keselowski in the Xfinity Series race, he climbed into the #51 Toyota Tundra he "leased back" to former owner Billy Ballew.  He took the lead from pole-sitter Kasey Kahne on lap 19 and hung on through the end of the first stage on lap 40.  Jack Sprague was kept on the track during the break and led the race on the restart.

The first major incident was on lap 48, when James Buescher (2012 champion) cut a tire and took John Wes Townley and Scott Riggs out with him.  Busch won stage 2 as well when the pit stops cycled through.

Stage 3 again saw a new leader when it went green, but this time it was due to Justin Allgaier winning the race off pit road.  However, Busch quickly regained the lead; in fact, he would lead 90 of the 130 laps in the race.

But - and I think you know where this is going - none of those laps were the last one.  That's because the truck Busch drove got looser and looser as the run progressed, enough for Matt Crafton, two-time champion and record holder for most career starts in NCWTS history, to make the pass with seven laps to go.  Crafton would go on to replicate his victory from 2015.

"Frankly, I don't know where it all went wrong for me," Busch would have said afterwards.  "Some things are meant to be, and unfortunately for me this whole day was not among them."

Busch's stage wins were based on three career wins and an incredible average finish of 1.80.

Two crashes on laps 94 and 113 during stage 3 ended the day for eight drivers.

Top 10 after stage 1: Kyle Busch, Ron Hornaday, Todd Bodine, Mike Skinner, Matt Crafton, Bobby Hamilton, David Reutimann, Timothy Peters, Dennis Setzer, Travis Kvapil
Top 10 after stage 2: Kyle Busch, Todd Bodine, Timothy Peters, Matt Crafton, Brendan Gaughan, Ron Hornaday, Mike Skinner, Johnny Sauter, Travis Kvapil



Final full-field results with point totals
  1. Matt Crafton - #88 Menards Toyota - 53
  2. Kyle Busch - #51 CertainTeed Toyota - 0*
  3. Travis Kvapil - #77 SafeLite Auto Glass Toyota - 37
  4. Todd Bodine - #13 Ride TV Toyota - 50
  5. Kurt Busch - #2 LTi Printing Ford - 0*
  6. Kasey Kahne - #21 Allegiant Air Chevrolet - 31
  7. Justin Allgaier - #19 Draw-Tite Ford - 30
  8. Joey Logano - #29 Cooper Standard Ford - 29
  9. Kyle Larson - #12 Georgia Tech Chevrolet - 28
  10. Mike Skinner - #5 Edelbrock Ford - 38
  11. David Reutimann - #18 Aaron's Toyota - 30
  12. Timothy Peters - #17 Red Horse Racing Toyota - 36
  13. Darrell Wallace, Jr. - #4 Sirius XM Toyota - 24
  14. Ryan Blaney - #66 Blue Gate Bank Ford - 23
  15. Ron Hornaday - #33 Smoky Mountain Snuff Ford - 36
  16. Erik Jones - #16 Great Wolf Lodge Toyota - 21
  17. Mike Wallace - #50 BB&T Chevrolet - 0*
  18. Jack Sprague - #7 Red Horse Racing Toyota - 20
  19. Johnny Sauter - #23 Allegiant Air Chevrolet - 21
  20. Jason Leffler - #83 Tom Johnson's RV/MRN Chevrolet - 17
  21. Scott Riggs - #52 Ford Credit Ford - 16
  22. Brendan Gaughan - #62 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet - 21
  23. Bobby Hamilton - #98 Square D Toyota - 19
  24. Reed Sorenson - #02 Young Motorsports Chevrolet - 13
  25. David Ragan - #63 Mittler Racing Chevrolet - 12
  26. Regan Smith - #8 DAB Construction Chevrolet - 11
  27. Dennis Setzer - #44 TMM Chevrolet - 12
  28. John Wes Townley - #1 Zaxby's Ford - 9
  29. James Buescher - #92 Black's Tire Service Chevrolet - 8
  30. Jennifer Jo Cobb - #10 Racegirl Ford - 7
  31. Cale Gale - #99 Stone Mountain Park Chevrolet - 6
  32. Joe Ruttman - #49 Schwan's Ford - 5
*Driver not eligible for points

Top 8 in points after this race
  1. Todd Bodine - 89
  2. Matt Crafton - 85 (1 win)
  3. Ron Hornaday - 76
  4. Timothy Peters - 74
  5. Mike Skinner - 71
  6. Joey Logano - 69 (1 win)
  7. Bobby Hamilton - 64
  8. David Reutimann - 62
Race statistics
Pole winner: Kasey Kahne, 177.873 mph
Race speed: 130.397 mph
Margin of victory: 0.402 seconds
Time of race: 1 hr., 32 min., 7 sec.
Cautions: 6 for 29 laps
Lead changes: 7 among 5 drivers

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Xfinity Series Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway

In 2015, Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark launched a new idea for his racetrack: placing both the Xfinity and Camping World Truck series races on the same day.  As it turns out, it's the Saturday after the Daytona 500, meaning that there's another occasion for all three of NASCAR's top series to get together.

Up first was the Xfinity Series Rinnai 250.  The series has raced at AMS every year, once a year, since 1992.  Jeff Gordon - driving the #1 Baby Ruth Ford for Bill Davis - was the winner of that race; months later, he would sign with Rick Hendrick and make his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut on the same track.  Carl Edwards won the 2005 event for his first career win, which he would back up with his first career Cup win the next day - still the only time that has ever occurred.  Kevin Harvick (2013-15) and Kyle Busch (2016-17) are the only race winners in the last five years.

And it was Harvick who was the only leader of this dream race early on; he led the first 48 laps, including all 40 in the first stage (based on his series-high four NXS wins at Atlanta).  Busch took over the lead on the second-stage restart.  That stage had only one caution, as Joe Nemechek spun off turn two on lap 69.  The leaders came down for the pit stops, and there Brad Keselowski beat Busch off, and held on to win stage two.  ("Brad K" has never won at AMS in the series, but his average of 6.17 as of the 2016 race was good enough to be best among all qualifiers.)

Top 10 after stage 1: Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Joe Nemechek, Johnny Benson, Michael Waltrip
Top 10 after stage 2: Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Brian Scott, Paul Menard, Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer



A four-car crash early in stage 3 took out 1996 and '97 series champion Johnny Benson and teammate J.J. Yeley among others.  Keselowski, meanwhile, passed Busch for the lead with 17 laps to go and held on for the win.  However, Harvick's consistent day gave him the most points among all drivers.  Bobby Labonte finished third for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Past champs Austin Dillon and Martin Truex, Jr. were among those caught speeding on pit road, thereby costing them potential good finishes.

Final race results with point totals:
  1. #22 Brad Keselowski - Discount Tire Ford - 50
  2. #18 Kyle Busch - GameStop Toyota - 46
  3. #11 Bobby Labonte - AXE Body Spray Toyota - 0*
  4. #2 Kevin Harvick - Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet - 51
  5. #7 Geoffrey Bodine - Brandt Chevrolet - 32
  6. #60 Carl Edwards - Arris Ford - 48
  7. #5 Brian Vickers - Armour Meats Chevrolet - 30
  8. #43 Adam Petty - Smithfield Foods Ford - 0*
  9. #20 Denny Hamlin - Hisense 4K Toyota - 28
  10. #33 Paul Menard - Menards/Dutch Boy Chevrolet - 30
  11. #55 Clint Bowyer - Aaron's "Lucky Dog" Toyota - 27
  12. #21 Austin Dillon - Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet - 25
  13. #42 Jamie McMurray - ENEOS Chevrolet - 33
  14. #16 Greg Biffle - Leidos Ford - 34
  15. #6 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. - Roush Performance Ford - 26
  16. #48 Randy LaJoie - DC Solar Chevrolet - 21
  17. #99 Michael Waltrip - Aaron's "Dream Machine" Toyota - 21
  18. #98 Matt Kenseth - Resers Meats Ford - 0*
  19. #01 Elliott Sadler - FlexSeal Chevrolet - 18
  20. #88 Mike Wallace - Hellman's Chevrolet - 17
  21. #1 Martin Truex, Jr. - OneMain Financial Chevrolet - 16
  22. #52 Chase Elliott - Emory Healthcare Chevrolet - 15
  23. #24 Buckshot Jones - Can-Am/BRP Toyota - 14
  24. #87 Joe Nemechek - Leaf Filters Chevrolet - 16
  25. #8 Kenny Wallace - MillionThanks.org Chevrolet - 0*
  26. #32 Brian Scott -  Shore Lodge Chevrolet - 15
  27. #14 J.J. Yeley - Owens-Corning Toyota - 10
  28. #39 Rob Moroso - ZombieAuto.com Chevrolet - 9
  29. #44 Johnny Benson - Johnsonville Toyota - 10
  30. #51 Jack Ingram - RepairableVehicles.com Chevrolet - 7
  31. #40 Jeff Green - Nutrition for Life Dodge - 6
  32. #78 Bobby Hamilton, Jr. - McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet - 5
  33. #0 Sam Ard - JD Motorsports Chevrolet - 4
  34. #90 Bill Rexford - Boomershine Auto Chevrolet - 3
  35. #28 David Green - WinField United Toyota - 2
  36. #4 Jimmy Spencer - FlexSeal Chevrolet - 1
  37. #74 Bobby Isaac - Mike Harmon Racing Dodge - 1
  38. #13 Ricky Craven - Long Motorsports Dodge - 1
  39. #07 Chuck Bown - Sea Life Chevrolet - 1
  40. #93 Jeff Purvis - Sieg Motorsports Chevrolet - 1
*Driver ineligible for points in this race
Top 12 in points after this race
  1. Kevin Harvick - 100
  2. Brad Keselowski - 84
  3. Geoffrey Bodine - 73
  4. Carl Edwards - 72
  5. Clint Bowyer - 62
  6. Greg Biffle - 61
  7. Kyle Busch - 59
  8. Michael Waltrip - 56
  9. Austin Dillon - 55
  10. Paul Menard - 55
  11. Denny Hamlin - 54
  12. Chase Elliott - 49
The second half will be in the next post.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

NASCAR dream season Daytona 500

Now for the post that you've all been waiting for.

Since the opening of Daytona International Speedway in 1959, the Daytona 500 has become the greatest race in the stock car world, and the Harley J. Earl Trophy perhaps the greatest individual trophy.  A win makes a career; multiple wins make a legend.

The moments make the ultimate highlight reel: Lee Petty's win in the first race, confirmed only by photo finish; the 1976 collision in which David Pearson outlasted Richard Petty; the first national telecast in 1979 and the post-race fight; Ned Jarrett's emotional reaction after his son Dale won the 1993 race; Dale Earnhardt's highly popular breakthrough victory in 1998; Michael Waltrip's first career win on the day Earnhardt was killed in 2001; Kevin Harvick's narrow win and last-lap crash behind in 2007; Denny Hamlin winning the closest finish ever in 2016; Kurt Busch's first win as "old man" Tony Gibson acted like a little boy in 2017.

For the race I'm running, the field includes 20 drivers who have won 43 of the 59 races held to date.  Of those, 12 have won more than once.

I would book Garth Brooks for the pre-show entertainment concert, Carrie Underwood for the national anthem, and as grand marshals I would hire Bill France Sr., Bill France Jr., and Junior Johnson.  The Frances and Johnson were three of the five members of the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  The other two - Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt - will drive in the race.

This looks like an awesome race, so let's drop the green flag on this one.

February 18
Daytona International Speedway
500 miles/200 laps (stages: 60, 60, 80)

Mark Martin, who once lived in Daytona Beach, was the pole sitter at 193.021 miles per hour; he went on to lead the first nine laps before Earnhardt's stalking efforts led to the first lead change.  Jeff Gordon passed Earnhardt on lap 16; three circuits later came the first caution when Tim Flock brought a cut tire to pit road.  The next caution came for debris on lap 45, by which time there were four more lead changes.  The lead changed hands twice more before Richard Petty completed a dramatic comeback from 16th to 1st to win stage 1.  (This was based on Petty's seven Daytona 500 wins, more than any other driver.)

A.J. Foyt stayed out to lead at the start of stage 2.  On lap 78, Harry Gant cut a tire and slammed into Adam Petty on the superstretch.  Then Jimmie Johnson spun off turn 2 to cause the race's fifth caution.  A wide variety of drivers led throughout the stage, including Gordon, Tony Stewart, and Davey Allison; however, Fred Lorenzen had a remarkable 46-lap run on fuel and had just enough to win stage 2.  (Lorenzen had an average finish of 6.91, best of all of those in the field with at least six starts.)

Stage 1 top 10: Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bill Elliott, Sterling Marlin, Jimmie Johnson, Michael Waltrip
Stage 2 top 10: Fred Lorenzen, Ned Jarrett, Dale Earnhardt, Earnhardt Jr., Elliott, Terry Labonte, Petty, Benny Parsons, David Pearson, Davey Allison

Lap 144 brought the track's dreaded "big one" in which 18 cars sustained at least some damage.  It began when 1975 winner Benny Parsons lost a right front tire.  When some other cars checked up, they were all brought together into the same narrow spot, with the usual bad consequences.  Among the stars who ended with wrecked cars: Martin, Stewart, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Neil Bonnett, Jeff Burton, and Matt Kenseth.  The race was stopped for some 28 minutes.

Once everyone came back, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and then Kurt Busch and Davey Allison asserted themselves as the front-runners.  But on lap 190, Earnhardt used the slingshot to take over the lead for the fourth time - and the last.

On the anniversary of the day he was killed in this very race, I have Dale Earnhardt as the winner of this mythical special event.  What's more, Dale Jr. came home in second place.  In third place was Davey Allison; his crew chief that day would be Larry McReynolds, the same one who led "the Intimidator" to victory in '98.

Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five, while Michael Waltrip surprised with a sixth-place finish for a part-time team.  Richard Petty finished eighth, Jimmie Johnson 12th, and Lorenzen came home 19th.

Earnhardt would have been the first driver to win the Advance Auto Parts Clash, his race at the Can-Am Duel, and the Daytona 500 in the same year.

Full-field rundown with point totals
  1. #3 Dale Earnhardt - Nationwide Chevrolet - 48
  2. #8 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. - Budweiser Chevrolet - 47
  3. #28 Davey Allison - Havoline Ford - 35
  4. #97 Kurt Busch - Monster Energy Ford - 33
  5. #24 Jeff Gordon - Axalta Chevrolet - 39
  6. #51 Michael Waltrip - Seminole Hard Rock Toyota - 0*
  7. #21 David Pearson - Motorcraft Ford - 32
  8. #43 Richard Petty - STP Ford - 43
  9. #25 Tim Richmond - Farmers Insurance Chevrolet - 26
  10. #11 Cale Yarborough - FedEx Toyota - 36
  11. #31 Dave Marcis - Caterpillar Chevrolet - 26
  12. #48 Jimmie Johnson - Lowe's Chevrolet - 27
  13. #9 Bill Elliott - McDonald's Chevrolet - 34
  14. #16 Ned Jarrett - KFC Ford - 32
  15. #4 Joe Weatherly - Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet - 22
  16. #42 Lee Petty - Kroger ClickList Ford - 21
  17. #5 Terry Labonte - Kellogg's Chevrolet - 25
  18. #88 Dale Jarrett - UPS Ford - 25
  19. #98 Fred Lorenzen - Florida Lottery Ford - 28
  20. #78 Fireball Roberts - Furniture Row Chevrolet - 17
  21. #2 Buck Baker - Miller Lite Ford - 16
  22. #13 Sterling Marlin - Geico Chevrolet - 18
  23. #10 Ricky Rudd - GoDaddy Chevrolet - 14
  24. #7 Alan Kulwicki - Golden Corral Chevrolet - 13
  25. #12 Bobby Allison - Mobil 1 Ford - 20
  26. #1 Neil Bonnett - Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet - 11
  27. #14 A.J. Foyt - ABC Supply Chevrolet - 10
  28. #27 Rusty Wallace - AAA Ford - 9
  29. #15 Kenny Wallace - NAPA Chevrolet 8
  30. #18 Bobby Labonte - M&M's Toyota - 7
  31. #41 Benny Parsons - Target Chevrolet - 9
  32. #38 Tim Flock - Camping World Ford - 5
  33. #00 Buddy Baker - Haas Automation Chevrolet - 4
  34. #34 Matt Kenseth - Dockside Logistics Ford - 3
  35. #17 Darrell Waltrip - Tide Toyota - 2
  36. #20 Tony Stewart - The Home Depot Toyota - 1
  37. #6 Mark Martin - Valvoline/Walmart Ford - 1
  38. #99 Jeff Burton - Exide Ford - 1
  39. #33 Harry Gant - Dow Chemicals Chevrolet - 1
  40. #44 Adam Petty - Bush's Baked Beans Ford - 1
*Not eligible for points

Top 16 in points (this includes Duel races as well as the Daytona 500)
  1. Dale Earnhardt - 58
  2. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. - 55
  3. Jeff Gordon - 49
  4. Richard Petty - 46
  5. Cale Yarborough - 45
  6. Bill Elliott - 42
  7. David Pearson - 37
  8. Davey Allison - 35
  9. Kurt Busch - 33
  10. Ned Jarrett - 32
  11. Jimmie Johnson - 30
  12. Bobby Allison - 29
  13. Tim Richmond - 28
  14. Fred Lorenzen - 28
  15. Dave Marcis - 26
  16. Terry Labonte - 26
Additional statistics
Pole winner and speed: Mark Martin, 193.121 mph
Race speed: 152.853 mph
Margin of victory: 0.339 seconds
Time of race: 3 hr., 16 min., 16 sec.
Cautions: 9 for 40 laps
Lead changes: 28 among 16 drivers

B.W. comments: "This is an awesome thing.  Dale Earnhardt was one of my favorite drivers growing up, and he is part of the family that is the very reason I and so many others watch NASCAR today.  And for this to happen on the anniversary that killed him is sweeter than I can describe.  Even in a small, mythical way, it brings joy to the whole racing world."

Saturday, September 16, 2017

NASCAR Dream Season: Camping World Truck Series opener at Daytona

Over the last few years, the Camping World Truck Series has emerged as a mix between veteran drivers wanting a second chance at glory and young up-and-comers making names for themselves.  And that's definitely true here.

I placed Kasey Kahne, who has only a handful of starts in this series, in version 1.0 and he won the title!  He's back to defend, joined by current Cup stars Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, David Ragan, and Erik Jones; truck veterans Matt Crafton, Ron Hornaday, Brendan Gaughan, Darrell Wallace Jr., and Timothy Peters; and past series champions Mike Skinner, Jack Sprague, and the late Bobby Hamilton.

Their first test was the season-opening NextEra Energy Resources 250, which Daytona first put on in 2000.  Thrilling moments include the scary crash that literally cut a truck (driven by Geoffrey Bodine) in half in that first race, Carl Edwards' first national-level win in 2003, and Kaz Grala's triumph in 2017 which made him the youngest winner in the track's history.

February 16
Daytona International Speedway
250 miles, 100 laps (stages: 20, 20, 60)

But the race I put on would be nothing like any ever seen before.

For one thing, two drivers who started at the back of the field would take just 20 laps - the length of the first stage - to roar into the top 10!  Those would be Joe Ruttman (4th based on his win in the 2001 race) and Ted Musgrave (a past race runner-up who finished seventh).  Sweeping stages 1 and 2 would be Todd Bodine (2-time race winner, tied with Johnny Sauter who I left out of the starting field; and an average finish of 6.11 in nine starts).

Top 10 after stage 1: Todd Bodine, Timothy Peters, Bobby Hamilton, Joe Ruttman, Jack Sprague, Travis Kvapil, Ted Musgrave, Erik Jones, Ron Hornaday, Mike Wallace
Top 10 after stage 2: Bodine, Peters, Kvapil, Matt Crafton, Hamilton, Sprague, James Buescher, Hornaday, Musgrave, Wallace

The biggest accident came on lap 36 and involved six trucks, including Ruttman and past champs Jones and James Buescher.  Larson slid off the track and onto the backstretch on lap 93; collected were former three-time
Cup champion Tony Stewart and former Formula One driver Nelson Piquet, Jr.

The last lap was wild.  Bodine and Timothy Peters (second in both stages) battled for the lead, but both ran out of gas just seconds after each other in that order.  Just off turn 3, Logano took over the lead and won the race!  As he could not earn stage points due to him not having any previous starts in the truck series at Daytona, Logano needed all the race points he could get - and got them!

Full-field rundown with point totals
  1. #29 Joey Logano - Cooper Standard Ford - 40
  2. #33 Ron Hornaday - Smoky Mountain Snuff Chevrolet - 40
  3. #75 Austin Dillon - Food Country USA Chevrolet - 0*
  4. #5 Mike Skinner - Wauters Motorsports Ford - 33
  5. #18 David Reutimann - Nintendo Switch Toyota - 32
  6. #98 Bobby Hamilton - Square D Toyota - 45
  7. #63 David Ragan - Bommarito Chevrolet - 30
  8. #19 Justin Allgaier - Draw-Tite Toyota - 29
  9. #52 Scott Riggs - VisitOrlando.com Ford - 28
  10. #21 Kasey Kahne - Allegiant Air Chevrolet - 27
  11. #2 Mike Bliss - SKF Ford - 26
  12. #88 Matt Crafton - Menards/Goof-Off Toyota - 32
  13. #4 Darrell Wallace, Jr. - JBL Toyota - 24
  14. #7 Jack Sprague - Red Horse Toyota - 34
  15. #66 Ryan Blaney - Herbalife Toyota - 22
  16. #50 Mike Wallace - BB&T Chevrolet - 0*
  17. #17 Timothy Peters - SiriusXM Toyota - 38
  18. #13 Todd Bodine - Maroone Auto Group Toyota - 39
  19. #12 Kyle Larson - UNOH Chevrolet - 18
  20. #51 Tony Stewart - Rush Truck Centers Toyota - 0*
  21. #22 Nelson Piquet, Jr. - Petrobras Chevrolet - 16
  22. #02 Reed Sorenson - Young Motorsports Chevrolet - 15
  23. #74 Ted Musgrave - Mike Harmon Racing Dodge - 20
  24. #83 Jason Leffler - Fanatics Toyota - 13
  25. #23 Scott Lagasse, Jr. - Allegiant Air Chevrolet - 0*
  26. #16 Erik Jones - AISIN Toyota - 14
  27. #49 Joe Ruttman - LoanMart.com Chevrolet - 17
  28. #77 Travis Kvapil - SafeLite Auto Toyota - 22
  29. #92 James Buescher - Black's Tire Service Chevrolet - 12
  30. #62 Brendan Gaughan - South Point Chevrolet - 7
  31. #8 Regan Smith - Death Wish Coffee Chevrolet -  6
  32. #28 Steve Park - FDNY Foundation Chevrolet - 5
*Not eligible for points

Top 8 in points after this race
  1. Bobby Hamilton - 45
  2. Joey Logano - 40
  3. Ron Hornaday - 40
  4. Todd Bodine - 39
  5. Timothy Peters - 38
  6. Jack Sprague - 34
  7. Mike Skinner - 33
  8. David Reutimann - 32
Additional statistics
Pole winner and speed: Kasey Kahne, 179.623 mph
Race speed: 132.182 mph
Margin of victory: 0.425 seconds
Time of race: 1 hr., 53 min., 28 sec.
Cautions: 8 for 32 laps
Lead changes: 11 among 6 drivers

NASCAR Dream Season: Xfinity opener at Daytona

Don't worry, race fans.  In due course, I will get to the outcome of my redone "Great American Race," the Daytona 500.  But right now, it's on to the races the track holds on the two days before that.

With the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series field dominated by returning drivers, the two series just below it on the NASCAR rung are filled with the millennial drivers that succeeded them at the top of the stock-car racing world.  The Xfinity Series slogan is "names are made here," and this is definitely true for the drivers I have committed to full seasons.  Consider these career numbers for some of them, in that series alone:
  • Kyle Busch - 91 wins (most in series history), champion in 2008
  • Kevin Harvick - 46 wins, champion in 2001 and '07
  • Carl Edwards - 38 wins, champion in 2007
  • Brad Keselowski - 36 wins, champion in 2010
  • Denny Hamlin - 17 wins
  • Martin Truex, Jr. - 13 wins, champion in 2004 and '05
And that's not accounting for what has happened to them since.  Busch, Harvick, and Keselowski are also past season champions in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and Truex Jr. is the favorite to win it all in 2017.

Oh, and another two-time champion, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., is only a part-timer in my scenario!

I have also added returnees like Brian Vickers, Jimmy Spencer, Elliott Sadler, Michael Waltrip, Jeff Green, and Adam Petty to the mix.  Finally, there are the earliest stars of the series, including NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram.

All of that will make Saturday afternoons as exciting as Sunday afternoons most weeks for the next nine months.

February 17
Daytona International Speedway
300 miles/120 laps (stages: 30, 30, 60)

It all began with the PowerShares QQQ 300, heir to a racing tradition that began with the series' first-ever race on Feb. 13, 1982.  Dale Earnhardt won that event, and I have his son Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the winner here, just as in the first version.  Here's how it happened:

Kyle Busch won the pole but faded back quickly as he lost the draft about halfway through the first 30-lap stage.  Tony Stewart came from the sixth starting position to win stage 1; that win was based on his seven February wins, which is tied with the elder Earnhardt for the most all-time.

On lap 49, Wendell Scott - the only black driver to win a top-series race and another member of the Hall of Fame - cut a tire and three other drivers (including Trevor Bayne, the youngest winner in Daytona 500 history) were caught up in the wreck, ending their days.  Geoffrey Bodine somehow maneuvered his way to the green-white-checkered flag to capture stage 2.  (That was based on his average finish of 2.63; all eight of his NXS finishes were in the top five.)

Top 10 after stage 1: Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Randy LaJoie, Geoffrey Bodine, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Joe Nemechek, Chase Elliott, Michael Waltrip, Carl Edwards
Top 10 after stage 2: Bodine, Harvick, Stewart, Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Earnhardt Jr., LaJoie, Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Kenny Wallace

More bad wrecks followed: Brian Scott and Randy LaJoie side-drafted and found the superstretch wall together on lap 78.  Then came two huge wrecks, which each caused red-flag delays.  In the first, on lap 96, Busch lost a front tire and nine drivers, including Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Jamie McMurray, saw their races end.  Part two came with seven laps to go: A battle for position between Edwards and Joe Nemechek went horribly wrong, and their collision moved into the vicinity of seven other race cars.  Those included Mark Martin (who held the career win record in this series before Busch), past champs Johnny Benson and David Green, and the late and beloved Adam Petty.

Earnhardt Jr. inherited the lead and chose the inside lane for the restart.  That almost backfired, as Stewart fought hard from the outside, but in the end "Little E" had just enough to take the #3 Wrangler Chevrolet to victory.  Harvick finished third, Waltrip fourth, and Keselowski fifth.




 Full field rundown and point totals
  1. #3 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. - Wrangler Chevrolet - 0*
  2. #11 Tony Stewart - Old Spice Toyota - 0*
  3. #2 Kevin Harvick - Rheem Chevrolet - 49
  4. #99 Michael Waltrip - Aaron's Chevrolet - 35
  5. #22 Brad Keselowski - Siscount Tire Ford - 34
  6. #52 Chase Elliott - Florida Hospital Chevrolet - 34
  7. #21 Austin Dillon - Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet - 30
  8. #55 Clint Bowyer - 5 Hour Energy Toyota - 35
  9. #78 Michael McDowell - K-LOVE Chevrolet - 28
  10. #16 Greg Biffle - Leidos Ford - 27
  11. #20 Denny Hamlin - Hisense 4K Toyota -  26
  12. #33 Paul Menard - Menards Chevrolet - 25
  13. #7 Geoffrey Bodine - Brandt Chevrolet - 41
  14. #87 Joe Nemechek - Leaf Filters Chevrolet - 27
  15. #88 Mike Wallace - HendrickAuto.com Chevrolet - 22
  16. #1 Martin Truex, Jr. - OneMain Financial Chevrolet - 21
  17. #60 Carl Edwards - Arris Ford - 24
  18. #8 Kenny Wallace - Alert Today Florida Chevrolet - 0*
  19. #6 Mark Martin - Sam's Club Ford - 0*
  20. #43 Adam Petty - Smithfield Foods Ford - 0*
  21. #5 Brian Vickers - Pilot Truck Stops Chevrolet - 16
  22. #44 Johnny Benson - Spectrum Toyota - 15
  23. #28 David Green - WinField United Toyota - 14
  24. #18 Kyle Busch - NOS Energy Toyota - 13
  25. #98 Matt Kenseth - Fresh From Florida Ford - 0
  26. #93 Bobby Gerhart - Sieg Motorsports Chevrolet - 11
  27. #01 Elliott Sadler - JD Motorsports Chevrolet - 10
  28. #42 Jamie McMurray - ENEOS Chevrolet - 9
  29. #14 J.J. Yeley - Tri-Star Motorsports Toyota - 8
  30. #4 Jimmy Spencer - FlexSeal Chevrolet - 7
  31. #90 Scott Lagasse, Jr. - Nexteer Automotive Chevrolet - 6
  32. #32 Brian Scott - ShoreLodge Chevrolet - 5
  33. #48 Randy LaJoie - DC Solar Chevrolet - 16
  34. #39 Rob Moroso - CarShield Chevrolet - 3
  35. #40 Jeff Green - Long Motorsports Dodge - 2
  36. #24 Trevor Bayne - Nikko RC/Road Rippers Toyota - 1
  37. #46 Wendell Scott - Bethune-Cookman College Chevrolet - 1
  38. #0 Sam Ard - FlexSeal Chevrolet - 1
  39. #51 Jack Ingram - RepairableVehicles.com Chevrolet - 1
  40. #07 Chuck Bown - Sea Life Chevrolet - 1
Top 12 in points after race 1
  1. Kevin Harvick - 49
  2. Geoffrey Bodine - 41
  3. Michael Waltrip - 35
  4. Clint Bowyer - 35
  5. Brad Keselowski - 34
  6. Chase Elliott - 34
  7. Austin Dillon - 30
  8. Michael McDowell - 28
  9. Greg Biffle - 27
  10. Joe Nemechek - 27
  11. Denny Hamlin - 26
  12. Paul Menard - 25
Additional statistics
Pole winner and speed: Kyle Busch, 180.467 mph
Race speed: 140.354 mph
Margin of victory: 0.226 second
Time of race: 2 hr., 8 min., 15 sec.
Cautions: 8 for 31 laps
Lead changes: 25 among 11 drivers

The Camping World Truck Series opener will be detailed in the next post.