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As a fan of the Washington Capitols since this post, I can say I’ve waited 191 DAYS FOR THIS TO HAPPEN!

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Motorhead Cup Wrap-Up

With the Motorhead Cup series in the books, it’s time for a brief wrap-up.

Jeff Gordon was the undisputed champion of the series. Carl Edwards was more consistent, overall, but he flamed out in the Chase and finished 42 points behind Gordon. That margin was closer than it looked — if not for Robby Gordon’s bizarre last-second charge at Martinsville, Jeff might have won the last race outright and put even more daylight between him and Edwards.

Elsewhere in the championship, Dale Earnhardt was impressive for finishing 6th while failing to score in the first several races; Jimmie Johnson scored three poles but somehow never won; and Kevin Harvick won two races but somehow missed the Chase. Juan Pablo Montoya was consistent and boring and I loved every moment of his season, and was sorry to see him fade at the end. Terry Labonte and Robby Gordon both had a single top five result all season — and both men won those races!

The series was a lot of fun … but also a lot of work. The races go by fast enough, but tracking results and stats for fifty drivers may have taken longer than the races themselves. Not sure if I will return to this game or not. I’d prefer a F1 variant, where there are only 22 cars to track (and I still just like F1 better than Nascar), but with the limited passing in F1 the game system would require significant revision.

The game taught me a bit about Nascar, and even inspired me to watch a couple races. I’ve moved from non-fan to casual. I liked nerding out and learning how the Nascar points system works, and I’ve gone from thinking the Chase/playoff format a gimmick to an enthusiastic supporter. It spices things up to see the championship won on the track, and it is unique to watch the end of the field as closely as the front, when drivers are being shaved from the field. It’s like watching soccer relegation at 200 MPH.

And so … Red, White, & Blue Racin’ goes on the shelf. Up next? A little break, probably, but then some History Maker Golf, and maybe (just maybe) one more SDHL Scramble Tournament, if I get caught up in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Big Kahuna Burger 500 Martinsville

Flash! Gordon Wins … And So Does Gordon!

thanks to our sponsor!

Race Week: That IS a tasty burger! Ryan Newman tries to make up for a disappointing season by seizing the pole. Tire problems consign Johnson to 35th, while the other three drivers alive for the Cup all begin near the top. Dave Blaney makes the field in 43rd and will try to pull himself out of the Motorhead Cup points cellar!

Race Events:

  • 3 Hard feelings carry over from qualifying as Stewart bumps Kenseth, but it is Stewart who loses control and falls to the rear.
  • 4 Bobby Labonte in the lead.
  • 7 Edwards steals lead coming out of first pit stop.
  • 8 Now Jeff Gordon is in front.
  • 11 Jamie McMurray the unexpected leader.
  • 15 Jeff Gordon puts Kenseth in the wall taking second, Kenseth fumes and goes laps down!
  • 17 Labonte reclaims lead dashing from pits.
  • 18 Gordon takes the lead. Entering the final third of the race, this looks like his championship to lose. He’s in first place and 28 spots clear of Jimmie Johnson, his closest challenger.
  • 27 In the strangest sight of the season, it is ROBBY Gordon that leads the field out of the pits, with Jeff Gordon slipping back to second!
  • 28 Robby wins while fifteen cars wreck at the back of the field … Jeff Gordon wins the Cup!

What an utterly bizarre finish! The race itself was largely without drama — after Jeff Gordon punted Matt Kenseth aside, he was basically running victory laps. It seemed like Jeff was going to cruise to a bookend victory (having won the opening Daytona 500) as well as the Motorhead Cup and the points championship … and then out of nowhere, Robby Gordon (who didn’t even start half the races this season) wins a drag race out of the pits, half the field crashes, and there are TWO Gordon’s on the podium! Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!

Biggest Charge: Skinner, 36th to 2nd

Biggest Fall: Rudd, 10th to 24th

Krusty-Os 500 Talladega

Kevin Harvick returns to victory lane while Carl Edwards melts down!

thanks to our sponsor!

Race Week: Jimmie Johnson looks to keep his title hopes alive with a start from the pole. Stewart and Bowyer also starting in the lead pack. Matt Kenseth starts from behind after a big wreck during practice, while turmoil in his crew puts Bobby Labonte well back. Carl Edwards and Dale Earnhardt start in the bubble positions … and in the midst of a simmering feud.

Race Events:

  • 2 Tony Stewart passes for the lead.
  • 4 Dale Earnhardt’s reflexes carry him through an impossibly small opening and into the lead.
  • 5 Talladega claims its first victim of the day — Jeff Gordon finds the wall, but his crew gets him running again. Field pits under yellow.
  • 8 Talladega strikes again! Kenseth, Rudd, and Kahne are collected — Kahne is the day’s first retirement.
  • 11 The Edwards/Earnhardt feud flares up; Earnhardt knocked from the lead when the two tangle. Montoya running in the lead!
  • 12 Chase contender B. Labonte has to pit for clutch problems.
  • 13 Scramble at the front sees Bowyer come out on top.
  • 14 Carl Edwards blows his whole season for the sake of a feud with Earnhardt! Well back in the pack, the two tangle, and Edwards is knocked out of the race!
  • 20 Major wreck at back of the pack brings out long yellow, and collects eight cars. Four would not return, including Cup contender Bobby Labonte.
  • 24 It’s the big one! A dozen cars are collected, five do not return. Dale Earnhardt returns to the track in dead last, but only nine spots behind Jeff Gordon, who holds the final Cup spot.

  • 30 Bowyer surrenders lead to Stewart.
  • 31 Wreck at the back of the pack collect Gordon, but he gets going, now in last.
  • 34 Earnhardt and Gordon move to the middle of the pack. Gordon and Kenseth on the outside looking in.
  • 35 Jimmie Johnson in the lead.
  • 36 Bowyer falls back as Gordon and Earnhardt continue charge into lead pack.
  • 39 Stewart back in front for the third time today.
  • 47 Stewart leads field back onto track after final pit stop. Bowyer and Earnhardt need to make a move to stay alive.
  • 49 Late yellow bunches up the field for a trophy dash finish!
  • 50 Kevin Harvick takes the lead on the re-start — sixth leader of the day, but the first across the finish line!

For the second race in a row, the points leader was eliminated from the Chase, as Carl Edwards followed-up his best finish of the year with his worst — and his most perplexing, given that he basically eliminated himself early in the contest by pressing his feud with Earnhardt. It was a competitive and action-filled afternoon, with plenty of wrecks and many lead changes. Two of the drivers dropping out of the Chase — Earnhardt and Bowyer — actually led laps in this race. (But so did Juan Pablo Montoya, so maybe leading laps is overrated). Kevin Harvick led only the final lap, but it was enough to claim his second victory of the season and take some of the sting out of his shocking omission from the Chase. Matt Kenseth will take the points lead into the final race, where he also has a chance to win the Motorhead Cup, without winning a race along the way! (Jimmie Johnson, who is lurking in 6th, has a chance to pull the same stunt)

Biggest Charge: Harvick, 40th to 1st

Biggest Fall: Edwards, 12th to 42nd

Alive for the Chase:

  • 24 Jeff Gordon
  • 17 Matt Kenseth
  • 14 Tony Stewart
  • 48 Jimmie Johnson

Omni Consumer Products 300 — New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Karl Edwards breaks through while series leader Hamlin comes up small at the worst possible moment!

thanks to our sponsor!

Race Week: Robocop was on hand to congratulate Dale Earnhardt, who had a dominant week with a perfectly tuned car that put him on the pole with horsepower to spare. Montoya, Hamlin, Edwards, and Gordon all helped their Cup survival chances by qualifying in the top group. Bill Elliott was the controversial story of raceweek, squeaking onto the grid in 42nd position after being assessed a penalty in qualifying. He will have to run a perfect race to stay in the Chase in this 300 mile event. Kenseth and Earnhardt Jr came together in qualifying and start the race feuding, and also next to each other, and just behind Bobby Labonte. Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson start in the middle of the pack but represent final two positions that will remain in the Chase as the pack takes the green flag.

Race Events:

  • 1 Kenseth and Earnhardt Jr waste no time, dueling up through the middle of the pack, but Kenseth is blocked by Harvick, and Earnhardt Jr. spins to the rear, bringing out a quick caution.
  • 15 Brain fade from Jimmie Johnson, he goes to the rear!
  • 18 Earnhardt Jr. nudges Kenseth, who goes to the rear. The last three drivers on the track — Kenseth, Johnson, and Earnhardt Jr. — are all in the Chase but fading fast!
  • 19 Cameras follow a fuming Kenseth as he slashes through the field from the rear, clawing his way to 18th but still no better than 9th in the Chase.
  • 21 Johnson right behind Kenseth as race reaches 2/3rd mark.
  • 23 Bobby Labonte into first in what is amazingly the first lead change of the day.
  • 27 Jeremy Mayfield beats Labonte out of pit row in the race’s final stop and becomes the surprise leader. Earnhardt Jr., Montoya, Elliott, Hamlin on the outside looking in for the Chase.
  • 28 Edwards powers into first. Tony Stewart suffers heartbreak as brake problems send him to the pits from 6th … his crew barely gets him back on the track but he is laps down and his Chase hopes seem dashed. Earnhardt Jr. inherits his Cup position.
  • 32 Joe Nemechek charges from the rear and into 17th, knocking Earnhardt Jr. back to 25th before he recovers. A sluggish Juan Pablo Montoya moves up into the final Cup slot!
  • 33 Stewart gets hot and races into 16th place at the close; Montoya has a shot but can’t move up. Edwards wins a race where all the attention was focused on the back of the pack!

A tense and interesting contest, and as befits an elimination race, much of the attention was focused on the middle and rear of the pack. With so little action at the head of the field, this would have been a snooze earlier in the year; coming at the end, it might have been the best contest so far. Lots of duels and trouble recoveries that didn’t impact results — but might have. I was cheering for Montoya to keep his thoroughly mediocre season alive but he couldn’t make his roll on the final corner. (Plus he dropped eighteen positions in this race, he really didn’t deserve it). The game was much more riveting when important action happens at both ends of the field. The Cup dynamic also impacted strategy as I had Earnhardt Jr. back off a duel near the end of the race to protect his 7th position, but he likely would have finished in the Cup points if he had gone for it. Carl Edwards finally adds a win to his sterling season while Montoya, Elloitt, Earnhardt Jr., and Hamlin must wait for a “next year” which will never come. Hamlin’s elimination is especially galling as he came into this race as the series points leader. Strong drives by Kenseth, Johnson, and especially Stewart to rescue their Cup hopes after racing luck slapped them down. On to Talladega!

Biggest Charge: Rudd, 40th to 15th

Biggest Fall: Hamlin, 5th to 36th (and out of the Cup from the #1 position going in)

Alive for the Chase:

  • 99 Carl Edwards
  • 24 Jeff Gordon
  • 17 Matt Kenseth
  • 14 Tony Stewart
  • 48 Jimmie Johnson
  • 33 Clint Bowyer
  • 3 Dale Earnhardt
  • 47 Bobby Labonte

Motorhead Cup Chase Field Is Set!

With the first nine races of the season in the books, the field is set for the Motorhead Cup Chase. Twelve drivers will carry championship hopes into the next race at the Omni Consumer Products 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The top eight drivers in that group will be alive for the Frosted Krusty-O’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, and finally just four drivers will start the Big Kahuna Burger 500 at Martinsville Speedway with a chance to claim the Motorhead Cup!

Here are the drivers qualifying for the Chase!

  • 11 Denny Hamlin
  • 99 Karl Edwards
  • 24 Jeff Gordon
  • 17 Matt Kenseth
  • 14 Tony Stewart
  • 48 Jimmie Johnson
  • 94 Bill Elliott
  • 33 Clint Bowyer
  • 3 Dale Earnhardt
  • 42 Juan Pablo Montoya
  • 47 Bobby Labonte
  • 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Drivers will continue to score points as normal, but the range of drivers permitted to win the title will narrow after each race, and the winner of the Chase will be the highest-placing driver of the final four in the last race, regardless of points. Let’s see if our eventual champion can win it both on the board and on the track.