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 @onpitrowNovember 7, 2011 12:22 pm UTC No Comments
Smoke has won four of the eight 2011 Chase races, including the last two. And even though Edwards leads in the standings, it is the Stewart wins at Martinsville and Texas that have driven a spike through the heart of Jimmie Johnson’s six year reign of NASCAR terror.
Put the garlic away NASCAR Nation – Count Johnson is dead – metaphorically. Even Jeff Gordon will be able to sleep at night again – actually.
What? You think I’m over reacting? With 30 laps to go at TMS whom do you think Stewart and Jack Roush were watching closer – Kevin Harvick and The Kez, or Count Five Time?
But it’s over. The people of Transylvania and Dixie can open their windows at night and turn on the Speed Channel again. No more Sunday nightmares. California Dreamin’ will be sung by the Beach Boys again, not Chad and Jimmie.
But seriously, Johnson and the #48 team had an unbelievable run, there’s nothing supernatural about it. Just a great team, and a magic time. I just have one question.
Has anybody ever seen Johnson’s reflection in a mirror?
Photo credit: Round girl Cyndi by BethAnne Heisler for 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.November 4, 2010 4:16 pm UTC No Comments
After everybody with a legitimate title shot managed to survive Talladega, the top three in points are now separated by under 40 points. Jimmie Johnson maintains the lead over second-place Denny Hamlin and third-place Kevin Harvick, but the margins are slim enough that anything can happen. Any of the three could come into the final two races of the year with the points lead.
Of course, they’re, by extension, the best three fantasy bets this weekend. But where’s the fun in that? Let’s make some interesting picks. I’m going to cut down from five to three this week, seeing as I just eliminated the three best available choices anyway.
My personal pick for the weekend is Tony Stewart, who somehow I have managed to avoid thus far during the Chase. Perhaps that’s been a good call – he’s had terrible luck in the Chase ever since the final two laps of the Loudon event. He has little momentum to build off of from the past few races as he lingers in the bottom half of Chase points.
But Smoke’s Texas results tell a decidedly different story. Though his peak years at the track came in 2005 and 2006, as he led double-digit laps in every event and won the fall 2006 race, he showed some muscle this spring by leading 74 laps from the pole before a late race crash eliminated any hopes of victory.
If Smoke’s bad luck is a turn-off, though, don’t forget about Mark Martin, whose 12.8 average Texas finish is fourth best of active drivers. That’s especially remarkable considering that in two of the first three Texas events ever held, Martin finished 34th or worse; however, he did win the other one, the 1998 event.
One of four drivers to run in all 19 Texas events held thus far, Martin has 10 other top-10 runs to back up that 1998 victory. Five of them have come in the past seven Texas events. And while Martin has only led three laps at the track since the spring of 2006, he’s shown the ability to keep the car out of trouble and close enough to the front to score plenty of points.
Finally, if you’re looking for a potential surprise pick, consider Martin Truex Jr. and his solid 13.9 average finish at Texas. Only two times in 10 starts has he failed to finish in the top 15, and in one of those events he led laps before his engine gave out. No, it’s not the most orthodox pick, but with only three races left in the season, who expects anything to play out predictably?