by Charlie Turner
Thanks for stopping by OnPitRow.com and the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog. The best NASCAR and IndyCar news and opinion, exclusive pictures and video. I'm Charlie Turner. Follow me on Twitter @onpitrowJune 21, 2010 10:02 pm UTC No Comments
Robby Gordon’s hard fought second place finish in the Toyota Save Mart 350 was a highlight of the first road course race of 2010. R Gordon is usually good at this place. He had nothing for race winner Jimmie Johnson at the end. But, other than Marco Ambrose, nobody could handle Johnson.
Ambrose’s fuel saving decision to shut his car down during a late caution came a gutser for him. When it wouldn’t re-fire, he lost seven spots. Marcos had a firm grip on his first win, and blew it. He finished sixth. Disappointed.
Red Bull’s Mattias Ekstrom showed why Audi likes him. Ekstrom was quick. He led laps. And Jeff Gordon took him out.
In fact Jeff was the other Gordon this day, incurring wrath often saved for Robby. By loose count, J Gordon ruined the days of Ekstrom, Elliott Sadler, Martin Truex Jr and Clint Bowyer.
Boris Said was a victim of the #24 too. In fact, Boris was up front repeatedly and just as often moved out, punted and squeezed off the racing surface. It was amazing to watch him recover. His eighth place result in the Air Guard/gtwgps.com Ford was a victory of talent and sense.
Photo credit: BethAnne Heisler – OnPitRow.com
by Charlie Turner
Thanks for stopping by OnPitRow.com and the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog. The best NASCAR and IndyCar news and opinion, exclusive pictures and video. I'm Charlie Turner. Follow me on Twitter @onpitrowJune 20, 2010 12:14 am UTC No Comments
NASCAR driver photos Mattias Ekstrom, Jeff Gordon and more
Check out more pictures of NASCAR personalities and action from the Toyota/Save Mart 350 weekend at Infineon. Jordan Tabak sent us some great shots of Saturday’s practice sessions and photos of some of the road course ringers, like newcomer Mattias Ekstrom and On Pit Row favorite Boris Said, who may be factors Sunday.
Photo credit: Jordan Tabak – OnPitRow.com
by Chris Leone, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
I do weekly Fantasy Pick'Em columns here at OPR, as well as the occasional opinion and analysis piece. I also provide the IZOD IndyCar Series coverage. For more on that, head to my site, OpenWheelAmerica.com. My Twitter handle is @christopherlion.June 16, 2010 7:47 pm UTC 3 Comments
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series only visits two road courses a year, and this weekend marks the first of those two events. The Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway also marks the final event before the ten-race “Race to the Chase” begins.
Road course events frequently bring out road course ringers, usually ex-open wheel and sports car drivers who will replace teams’ normal drivers for the single weekend. They give the smaller and/or struggling teams a good chance at stealing a win or two over the course of the season. One, Sweden’s Mattias Ekstrom, will make his NASCAR debut for Team Red Bull after establishing a career as one of the best touring car drivers ever seen in Germany.
So who’s a solid pick for this weekend’s race? Don’t just pick the biggest names in the sport. Some of the top options aren’t who you think.
Unless, of course, your pick is Juan Pablo Montoya, in which case you’re right on the money. The ex-Formula 1 star has an average finish of 4.3 in three Infineon starts, including a win in his 2007 debut and top-10s in every race. It doesn’t even matter that his qualifying average is a 23.3 – he’ll get through the field.
As for a dark horse, my pick is Boris Said, who returns to the Latitude 43 Motorsports car this weekend. Said always has a decent shot at winning road course races, which is why he seems to find a ride at just about every NASCAR road course event year in and year out. But besides the lack of prestige and results produced thus far by the No. 26 team, what makes Said a dark horse is his underwhelming 20.3 average finish at Infineon, with only four top-10s and a best finish of sixth in 10 starts.
As for the other three picks I normally give you?
Clint Bowyer, whose Infineon stats are quietly second best in the series, will give you a good shot at a decent finish. Though he’s never won, his 8.0 average finish is second to only Montoya’s. He has two fourth-place finishes in four starts and a worst finish of 16th, with all 445 possible laps completed.
Jeff Gordon, meanwhile, may be one of the best Infineon drivers of all time, his average finish only down to a 9.3 because of the occasional poor finish in 17 starts. That does not, however, take away from his five wins, including three in a row from 1998 to 2000. He hasn’t led any laps since his last win in 2006, but he has led substantial portions of the race in each of the nine times he’s held the point. Gordon only has four finishes outside of the top three at Infineon in the past ten years, and two of those were still top-10s.
Finally, Denny Hamlin has been on a tear recently, winning five of the last ten events. This puts him third in points with a huge advantage once the Chase starts. His Infineon record is not stellar but acceptable, with two top-10s in four starts and only one finish in the bottom half of the field. He even led 33 laps at the track last year. His momentum, however, and not his track expertise, will be the key for him to secure another strong finish.
by Charlie Turner
Thanks for stopping by OnPitRow.com and the Bench Racing with Steve and Charlie blog. The best NASCAR and IndyCar news and opinion, exclusive pictures and video. I'm Charlie Turner. Follow me on Twitter @onpitrowJanuary 29, 2010 9:18 pm UTC 2 Comments
So happy to see that On Pit Row favorite Boris Said will get another shot at making this NASCAR thing work. Foxsports.com’s Lee Spencer has Boris back in a Sprint Cup car for at least the first five races of 2010. Sponsor to be announced before the Daytona 500. We’ll see if we can’t get the head of the Said Heads for an upcoming show.
Just before the 2008 Darlington race, Denny Hamlin came up lame after a pick-up basketball game. We suggested back then that Joe Gibbs should ban Hamlin from any sport that required less than two balls (see question number 6). Did the coach listen? Uh, sadly, for JGR fans, nope. Denny tore an ACL and will have to deal with the injury for the duration of 2010. Hamlin says – no problem. But it won’t help.
Finally, Jimmie Johnson crashed. Unfortunately for all you Johnson haters, J J was driving his Grand Am car and not his Sprint Cup ride when he stuffed it in a wall. You all can only hope that this is an omen. I wouldn’t bet on it if I were you though.
by Charlie Turner
When I read that, I thought it must be a mistake. I mean, J J has won the last three Cup championships and, nearly, the last five. He had to have won at the Glen or Infineon at leat once – right?
But, no he hasn’t. Not yet. But the no. 48 sits on the pole for the Heluva Good at the Glen on Sunday, and I like his chances.
- Sharing the front row with the Champ is the Blue Deuce of Kurt Busch. Kurt and Johnson had a pretty serious run-in the last time they raced on a road course at Sonoma. They are both pretty solid in the Race to the Chase standings with five races to go. Maybe Kurt will make Jimmie’s day miserable this time.
- Starting third is red hot Pocono winner Denny Hamlin. Hamlin has a roadie win in his quiver. Contender.
- Next to the Fed Ex no. 11 is Marcos Ambrose, who made Infineon really interesting with a strong third after starting at the back of the field. He’ll be tough all day from the front.
- David Stremme emerged from the NASCAR trailer and his dust-up with Robby Gordon at Pocono to take fifth fastest. Nice work under pressure.
- Ryan Newman is the Stewart-Haas top ten qualifier this time. People don’t think of the Rocket Man on road courses, but they should. He’s good.
- Greg Biffle is seventh and another underrated road racer. The Biff needs a good finish here to keep his narrow hold in the Chase.
- Outside row four is the enigma. Kyle, the Shrub Busch. Is this a win week or another bust. Big pressure is building to make the Chase and he’s 100 points out.
- Talk about pressure. Race twice a year. Have to qualify every time. Then expect to win. Welcome back Boris Said!
- Starting tenth, maybe the hottest man in the series for the last month. Juan Pablo Montoya. Won here in Nationwide cars. Could have won the two races leading into this race, on tracks that have similar characteristics to the roadies.
Gentleman. Start. Your. Engines!
Photo credit: Round girl Jen by BethAnne Heisler for OnPitRow.com
by Charlie Turner
I put the over-under on the Sunday broadcast at, oh… ten.
Veteran road racer and good guy, Boris Said was a guest On Pit Row this week. And Boris says “bull” to the no-passing notion.
Steve asked him is he would be going all-out for the pole, since it is, presumably so hard to move through the field. But Boris said, no – he had to make sure that he got the car into the field first. And he then went on to say that there are plenty of places to pass at Infineon. You just have to pick your spots. It was a good interview. You can listen to the show- click here.
We have another new feature that we are debuting this weekend, specially for you fantasy racers out there. We’ll be hosting a live fantasy racing advice chat/blog (I don’t know exactly what to call it yet) after qualifying tonight at 8PM ET. It will be hosted by one of our fantasy racing experts – Ryan Rantz. Go to our Live Page – click here – and check it out. We’ll even send you a reminder if you want one.
Photo credit: Round girl Jen by BethAnne Heisler – OnPitRow.com