So I started writing this during the New Hampshire race but for some reason never finished it. All that means is... I get to add on!!! :)
This next weekend is going to be one of those weekends that NASCAR fans dread...off week. It's that point in the season where the drivers and crew get a much needed weekend off and get to spend some well deserved time with their families and friends. For those of us who spend our Sunday's parked in front of the TV...this weekend is going to drag on.
Thankfully, this is just for one weekend and when the Sprint Cup Series returns....IT'S INDY BABY!!!!
And don't think that you wont have ANY racing this weekend. The NASCAR Nationwide Series is at Chicagoland this weekend! Tune in :)
So...I took to twitter before the race to see if I could get any questions that I could answer on here. Surprisingly, I got quite a few that were very similar.
1: Quite a few questions regarding Danica Patrick (shocker :) including but not limited to: Thoughts on her Rookie Season, Thoughts on Petty's comments, Thoughts on her relationship with Stenhouse...just to name a few.
I don't know how many times I have answered these questions but honestly, I don't mind doing so. So let's start from the beginning. Thoughts on her Rookie Season. Judging her on her performance throughout the race, not her final results and also looking at past Rookie drivers, Danica is fairing pretty well considering it is just her second full season racing stock cars. Many Rookies, as in a majority of them, finish in the mid-20s in points at the end of the season. What to see the statistics? Check out this article by one of my fellow writers at Speedway Digest---> here.
I think she is showing progress each and every week. Listening to her radio during the race, she is constantly giving feedback and listening to her team. You may want to chalk up her top-10 finish this season to not taking chances at Daytona, but her 12th place finish at Martinsville, after being many laps down, proves that she is a very talented driver.
Now, my thoughts on Kyle Petty's comments... look here.
Thoughts on her relationship with Ricky Stenhouse Jr? If you look at pictures and videos from her IndyCar days... or even early last season, it almost looks like a completely different person compared to the Danica we see today. Almost any driver or media person you ask will say that she is seems like a completely different Danica. Her entire attitude has changed, lightened up. She is having fun at the track and not 100% serious all of the time. Her interviews have gotten much funnier and looser too. The same can be said for Ricky. I really think that this relationship will be around for a long time. I mean, she is now listening to country music and wearing boots on a semi-regular basis...
2: Will Jimmie Johnson win the Championship?
I have two answers to this. Yes and well....quite possibly, yes.
If the Chase started right now, Johnson and Kenseth would be tied. At the top. No points difference between them whatsoever. BUT! If there wasn't a Chase, Johnson would be a logical choice for a predicted winner. He has led the points standing every week but two this season and after his stunning performance at New Hampshire, he leads the points standing by more than one race. If he and the No48 team keep on this high that they are on...not literally...then he would be a good bet for the Championship win. Ultimately, unless one of these other drivers goes on a hot streak like Stewart did in 2011, then the Championship will come down to two drivers, Johnson and Kenseth. Buckle up everyone, it's going to be one heck of a ride.
So, like I said above, I was listening to Danica's radio feed during the race, like I do basically every week. I quite enjoy it when she gets heated and some of my fellow Danica fans and I like to keep track of how many F-bombs she lets loose during any given race. Well, during Sunday's race, she had a little encounter with a fellow driver, AJ Allmendinger that resulted in her taking a spin. Check it out:
Danica Patrick after being spun by AJ Allmendinger: “Let the 51 spotter know that I think it’s
bull(expletive) that he’s a lap down and he moved me out of the way.”
Spotter Brandon Bensch: “10-4”
Patrick: “Thank you. … Was he the lucky dog, the 51?”
Bensch: “The 51 was the first car lap down.”
Patrick: “Mother (expletive).”
Bensch: “Exactly. He said he’s sorry.”
Patrick: “No he’s not. He’s not (expletive) sorry at all. He got his lap back.”
Crew chief Tony Gibson: “Just load that up in your memory bank.”
Patrick: “It makes me so mad. He tried to do it the lap before, but I gave enough room.
But that time I held my line and he just took me out.”
Frankly, the 51 (Dinger), spun her because he wanted his lap back. looking at the replay, that was plain to see. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only incident that she would be involved in. With a little more than 50 laps to go, Danica started a chain reaction that collected the No93 of Travis Kvapil and the No17 of Stenhouse. This isn't the first incident that she and Stenhouse have been involved in together this season. He caused a wreck that ended her day in Charlotte earlier this season. Don't worry Stenica fans, it didn't end the relationship this time either.
Oh...One more question that I was asked. Who will miss/make the Chase.
Um...this question is almost IMPOSSIBLE to answer this season. Seriously.
If you look at the standings, the top seven are all but locked in to the Chase.
Between Busch and Biffle, who sits eighth in points, there is a 31 point difference. Not a huge difference, but large enough that it's going to be difficult for anyone above him to drop out of the top-10.
Also, in the top 7, the only two who are currently winless, are Bowyer and Earnhardt Jr. Not necessarily a bad thing, they could come on a hot streak during the Chase.
From 9th to 20th, the difference in points is a mere 42 points. To put that in perspective, the most someone can earn in a race is 48. Also, Johnson's lead over Bowyer is bigger than the gap between 9th and 20th; 56 points.
With one bad race, a driver can drop multiple positions in the points. Take Kurt Busch for example. He went into New Hampshire sitting 9th in points after a great run at Daytona. After a wreck in the race left him multiple laps down, Busch dropped to 14th in points; 5 positions. Same can be said if you look at it the other way. One strong finish can move a driver into the top-10; i.e. Brad Keselowski.
So aside from the top 7 or so in points, it it still way to early to tell who will make the Chase and who will be looking in with raging eyes when Chicagoland weekend comes. One thing in for certain, if you aren't in the top-10, you are going to need that win, or two, to get the wild card spot. It's not too late for any driver in the top 20 and these next few weekends are going to be crucial for all 12 of them.
Ok, now it's time to see what crazy things Danica Patrick talks about on The Tonight Show. I'm thinking Jay Leno is going to bring up the wreck and also Kyle Petty's comments. I also hear that they are going to test her grip. That should be interesting!
Until next time....oh yeah, and watch the ESPY Awards tomorrow night! Brad Keselowski and Danica Patrick are both scheduled to make an appearance and I'm fairly certain Ricky Stenhouse will make an appearance too :) And what's better than a bunch of athlete's competing for awards?
Ok...signing off now :)