Pre-Weekend Quick Takes

Spencer Neff

Twitter:@NeffOnSports11

Thank you for reading and I hope you had a great week. Here are some of the top headlines for the weekend in racing.

  1. The Eliminator round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup comes to a close this weekend in Phoenix, defending race winner Kevin Harvick will be looking to extend his winning streak at the track to five races. With a win, Harvick would clinch a spot in the championship round next week at Homestead. There are another six contenders fighting with Harvick for the final three spots next week with Martinsville winner Jeff Gordon. The final laps of Sunday’s race could be some of the most exciting of the year.
  2. Formula 1 heads to Brazil for the penultimate race of the season. 2015 Champion Lewis Hamilton will be looking to rebound after teammate Nico Rosberg won the last round in Mexico, while Rosberg’s primary goal at this juncture is to keep tacking on race wins to end a frustrating year.
  3. NHRA will be closing out their season on Sunday in Pomona. With the Top Fuel and Pro Stock titles are wrapped up, the main focus will be on the battles between Del Worsham and Jack Beckman in Funny Car and Andrew Hines, Jerry Savoie and Eddie Kraweic in Pro Stock motorcycle. None of the title contenders were among the leaders in Friday’s qualifying, so there will be more catching up to do on Saturday before Sunday’s elimination.

Have a great weekend and see you soon.

Top 10 Tuesday: NHRA’s Greatest Champions

Spencer Neff

Twitter:@NeffOnSports11

Thank You for reading and I hope you are having a great week. On Sunday, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will close out its season in Pomona and two drivers from the Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle series will join Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) and Antron Brown (Top Fuel) as 2015 champions. In celebration, here is a list of the sport’s top ten champions.

10. Don Garlits: Widely regarded as the best drag racer ever, Garlits won three titles from 1975-1986 to go along with his 35 national event wins.

9. Don Prudhomme: Prudhomme holds the distinction of being the first Funny Car driver ever to win consecutive titles, when he won four from 1975 to 1978, accompanied by 49 national event wins in Top Fuel and Funny Car.

8. Joe Amato: Amato is just one of two drivers to win five or more titles in Top Fuel, as he won five from 1984-1992 to go along with his 52 wins.

7. Jeg Coughlin Jr.: Aside from Bob Glidden and Warren Johnson, Coughlin is the only driver in Pro Stock to win five or more titles, doing so from 2000-2013, while attaining 74 wins, also trailing only Glidden and Johnson.

6. Dave Schultz: In 1987, Schultz became the first champion in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class. Nine years later, he had racked up five more titles and 45 wins, both of which are class records.

5. Kenny Bernstein: Bernstein is likely the most successful driver to have competed in multiple classes. After winning four consecutive Funny Car championships from 1985 to 1988, Bernstein would later win the 1996 and 2001 Top Fuel crown, also ending his career with 69 wins.

4. Warren Johnson: Johnson was the top Pro Stock driver during much of the 1990s and 2000s, Johnson has a class-record 97 wins to go with his six championships.

3. Tony Schumacher: Perhaps the most dominant driver in Top Fuel history, Schumacher has class records with 73 wins and 8 championships, including six in a row from 2004 to 2009.

2. Bob Glidden: The only driver other than Force to win 10 championships, Glidden dominated the Pro Stock class, winning 10 championships from 1974-1989, and 85 national events.

  1. John Force: In addition to records for wins (143) and top qualifier spots (139), Funny Car’s Force has added an NHRA record 16 titles, including 10 in a row from 1992-2002.

Enjoy your week and see you soon.

Sunday Night Quick Takes

Spencer Neff

Twitter:@NeffOnSports11

Thank you for reading and I hope you had a great weekend. Here are some of the weekend’s top headlines.

  1. Jimmie Johnson took the lead late in the race from Brad Keselowski for the season sweep at Texas. Johnson’s win prevented another Chase contender from clinching a spot in the finale at Homestead. Headed to Phoenix, only Jeff Gordon has a spot in the Championship Four clinched. The list of Chase drivers needing to win next week is extensive and  headed by Kevin Harvick, who has won seven races at Phoenix International Raceway, including the last four.
  2. Brad Keselowski took advantage of a late-race spin by Kyle Larson to win Saturday’s Xfinity race. Chris Buescher exited Texas with a 24-point advantage over Chase Elliott and while he will likely not clinch the title until the final race, it is looking increasingly unlikely anyone will pose a serious threat to his chances.
  3. Erik Jones kicked off the weekend at Texas by winning the Truck Series race on Friday night. In the process, Jones extended his points lead over Matt Crafton to 17. Jones has won at Phoenix before, so Friday night’s race could provide him with another great chance to pad his points lead.

Have a great week and see you soon.

Pre-Weekend Quick Takes

Spencer Neff

Twitter:@NeffOnSports11

Thank You for reading and I hope you had a great week. Here are some of the top headlines for the weekend in racing.

  1. The Eliminator round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup continues this weekend at Texas, as several contenders who had issues at Martinsville, like Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kurt Busch, will be looking to rebound. Many of the championship contenders qualified well, making the battle to stay in contention that much easier.
  2. After three weeks off, the Xfinity Series returns to Texas. Chris Buescher has had a sizable lead for a number of weeks. Unless Buescher were to slip up, it will be difficult for any other contenders to pose a threat to him over the next three weeks.
  3. Much has been made of Matt Kenseth’s two-week suspension after intentionally wrecking Joey Logano at Martinsville. Although Kenseth did deserve some penalty, the suspension was overly drastic considering the history of these types of incidents. The argument could be made that there were other factors besides the act itself that went into the punishment.

Have a great weekend and see you soon.

Top 10 Tuesday: Chase-Era Controversies

Spencer Neff

Twitter:@NeffOnSports11

Thank you for reading and I hope you are having a great week.

Earlier today, NASCAR suspended Matt Kenseth for two races after he wrecked Joey Logano late in Sunday’s race at Martinsville. Kenseth’s actions are likely stemming from his frustration with Logano spinning him at Kansas, the latest in a series of controversies that have permeated the sport since the Chase was implemented in  2004.

10. 2010: Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton Rumble-During a caution at Texas, Jeff Burton inadvertently turned into Jeff Gordon and sent the two crashing into the wall. Out of the race, Gordon went over to confront Burton and the two began to scuffle, causing one of the most unexpected scraps between drivers in the last few years.

9. 2014: Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon Scrap-After making contact late in the November race at Texas, Jeff Gordon’s tire was flattened and he was sent spinning into the wall. After being confronted by Gordon, Keselowski was shoved back into the fracas by Kevin Harvick. The ensuing melee resulted in shoving, pushing and several flared tempers.

8. 2014: Brad Keselowski Feuds with Joe Gibbs Racing-A long-standing feud between Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin boiled over at Charlotte in the fall of 2014. Keselowski and Hamlin made contact with each other late in the race. The feuding would continue later on, as Keselowski had confrontations with Hamlin, Kenseth and Tony Stewart after the race, resulting in several fines.

7. 2015: Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth- Late in the race at Kansas three weeks ago, Kenseth and Logano tangled at Kansas, sending Kenseth to a 14th-place finish and Logano on his way to a sweep of the Contender Round as Kenseth was eliminated at Talladega. After a crash a week later  involving Brad Keselowski knocked Kenseth out of the race, he enacted payback on Logano, who was leading the race at the time.

6. 2015: Kevin Harvick at Talladega- With a sputtering engine and his chances of advancing in the Chase fading, things looked bleak for Kevin Harvick. After the initial green-white-checkered attempt was waved off, the only scheduled one began with Harvick and Trevor Bayne getting together. Although many had suspected foul play by Harvick, he was not penalized and the result stood.

5. 2007: Michael Waltrip Racing Busted at Daytona-2007 was billed as Toyota’s debut in the top tier of NASCAR, but after qualifying, that all changed. Michael Waltrip’s team was found to have used an illegal additive in the fuel tank of his car. The infraction resulted in several suspensions for the crew, a 100-point loss before the season started and an embarrassing start to Michael Waltrip Racing’s history.

4. 2006: Chad Knaus Suspended: After an illegal adjustment was found in the rear window of Jimmie Johnson’s car, his crew chief Chad Knaus was suspended for four races. The suspension was the beginning of several that have been a part of the career of one of the sport’s best crew chiefs.

3. 2012: Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon Tangle-Late in the November Phoenix race, Jeff Gordon became frustrated with Clint Bowyer and decided to take him out of the race, effectively ending Bowyer’s chance at a title. A massive scuffle broke out between the two teams, making for one of the most famous scenes in recent memory. The feud between the two may have gone from the headlines, but not from anyone’s memory.

2. 2011: Kyle Busch Wrecks Ron Hornaday- Since entering the Cup Series in 2005, Kyle Busch has been probably the most polarizing driver in the series. That reached a climax in the Truck Series race at Texas. Early on, Busch and Ron Hornaday made contact.Frustrated by the contact, Busch spun Hornaday into the wall. After that, Busch would be parked by NASCAR for the weekend and sponsors forced his absence from racing for the remaining two race weekends of the year.

  1. 2013: Michael Waltrip Racing at Richmond- Late in the last regular season race at Richmond, Ryan Newman seemed to be in position to win his way into the Chase. However, a late-race spin by Clint Bowyer thwarted those plans and helped Bowyer’s teammate, Martin Truex Jr. into the chase. Later when the spin was found to be orchestrated, Truex was booted from the Chase in favor of Newman, and Jeff Gordon was later added after Front Row Motorsports and Team Penske were also found to have worked to prevent Gordon from being in over Penske’s Joey Logano.

Enjoy your week and see you soon.

Sunday Night Quick Takes

Spencer Neff

Twitter:@NeffOnSports11

Thank you for reading and I hope you had a great weekend. Here are some of the top headlines for the weekend in racing.

  1. Jeff Gordon won his first race of the season and clinched a spot in the championship finale at Homestead, as Joey Logano was taken out of the race in a payback maneuver  by Matt Kenseth stemming from the latter being spun by the former at Kansas. Kenseth, who was parked for the race by NASCAR,may also have additional punishments later in the week, and it will be worth seeing how his compares to similar circumstances in the past.
  2. Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) and Antron Brown (Top Fuel) each clinched their second championship, the former while winning at Las Vegas. Doug Kalitta (TF), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) joined Enders-Stevens on the winners’ stage. With two titles very much up for grabs, the finals in Pomona in two weeks will be a tense time for several drivers in Pro Stock Motorcycle and Funny Car.
  3. Nico Rosberg turned in a dominating performace in Mexico for his first win since Austria in June. Although teammate Lewis Hamilton has already clinched the world championship, Rosberg will be looking to use these last few races to gain confidence for 2016, something he began to do with Sunday’s win.

Have a great week and see you soon.

Pre-Weekend Quick Takes

Spencer Neff

Twitter:@NeffOnSports11

Thank You for reading and I hope you had a great week. Here are some of the top headlines for this weekend in racing.

  1. The Eliminator Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins on SUnday at Martinsville. After last week’s controversial finish at Talladega that left several contenders out of the Chase and frustrated with each other. With a short track on tap this week, tempers could begin flaring, especially late in the race as eight drivers look to clinch a spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead.
  2. NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship is in Las Vegas for its penultimate race of the season. While Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) and Antron Brown (Top Fuel) may be able to clinch the championships in their respective classes, while the points battles in Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle have become increasingly tighter in what is sure to be an exciting end to 2015.
  3. Formula 1 returns to Mexico after a 23-year absence. After Lewi Hamilton clinched his third world championship, look for him to continue his dominant season, or teammate Nico Rosberg to get past the issues that haver plauged him and end the year on a positive.

Have a great weekend and see you soon.

Top 10 Tuesday: Motorsports Trophies

Spencer Neff

Twitter:@NeffOnSports11

Thank you for reading and I hope your week is starting off well.

This weekend at Martinsville Speedway, drivers in the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series will be vying for the win and with it, the famous grandfather clock that is locally-made and presented to the winner of each race at the track. In honor of the grandfather clock, here is a look at the top trophies in motorsports.

10. Texas Boot: The giant cowboy boot given to the winner at Texas Motor Speedway, when combined with a cowboy hat and a pair of guns make for one of the most interesting celebrations in racing.

9. Nashville Guitar: Although racing has ceesed at the Nashville Speedway, the guitar (custom painted by famed artist Sam Bass), was long a part of the lore of winning at the track. One of the most famous moments came in 2009, when Kyle Busch smashed the guitar in victory lane.

8. Loudon Lobster: The winner of the  race at New Hamppshire Motor Speedway is given a live, 25-pound lobster, with some the reactions from victory lane becoming a notorious part of the celebration.

7. Sonoma Wine: Part of the allure of racing in Sonoma is its proximity to Napa Valley and WIne Country. SInce 2006, the winner of the race at Sonoma (in NASCAR, IndyCar, NHRA and motorcycle racing) has enjoyed a glass of wine to celebrate their win.

6, Harley J. Earl Trophy: Named for the General Motrs designer, a scale replica of the trophy has been handed out to the winner of every Daytona 500 since the inaugural event in 1959.

5. Dover Miles the Monster: The mascot of Dover International Speedway, Miles the Monster was incorporated into the track’s trohy, where a replica of Miles holding a diecast of the winning car is given to the winner at the “Monster Mile”.

4. NHRA Wally: Named after NHRA founder Wally Parks, but modeled after Top Gas driver Jack Jones, the 18-inch, 12-pound brass statue has been given to the winner of each national event in each class since 1969.

3. Daytona Rolex Watch: In 1992, watchmaker Rolex took over as title sponsor for the 24 Hours of Daytona. SInce then, the winning drivers in each class of the famed endurance race have received a Rolex Daytona watch.

2. Martinsville Grandfather Clock: In September of 1964, Fred Lorenzen was given a grandfather clock from Ridgeway Clocks in Virginia. Ever since then, the grandfather clock has become one of the most cherished traditions in NASCAR.

  1. Borg-Warner Trophy: First awarded to Louis Meyer in 1936 after his third Indianapolis 500 victory, the Borg-Warner Trophy has been presented to the winner of the race every year since with the face of every winning driver on it. In 1986, a base was added to accomodate more faces, and was renovated to make enough space until 2033.

Enjoy your week and see you soon.

Sunday Night Quick Takes

Spencer Neff

Twitter:@NeffOnSports11

Thank you for reading and I hope you had a great weekend. Here are some of the top stories from the weekend in motorsports.

  1. Joey Logano won his third consecutive race Sunday at Talladega, after a wreck broke out just as the only green-white-checkered attempt began. The end of the race left Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth out of the Chase, while Kevin Harvick, who ignited controversy when his car seemed to have played a part in the race-ending crash, moved on to the next round.While it may not be proven Harvick’s intent and therefore any ability to penalize him may be taken away, NASCAR made a mistake by reducing the green-white-checkered attempts from three to one. Doing so took away an exciting finish from the fans and was an unfair wild card to throw into the mix this close to the race. Hopefully NASCAR will keep the number of attemts at a green-flag finish at three and think of other ways to make restrictor plate races safer.
  2. Lewis Hamilton won the United States Grand Prix in Austin and clinched his third Formula 1 Championship. Hamilton has become the dominating driver in the sport and could be able to contend for some of the series records if he keeps up his torrid pace.
  3. Just as in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race ended on its first green-white-checkered attempt, when Spencer Gallagher and John Wes Townley collided on the backstretch as Timothy Peters picked up his first win of 2015 and his second in a row at Talladega. Tyler Reddick passed Matt Crafton for second in points behind Erik Jones after Crafton was involved in a wreck on Saturday. With just 23 points between the top three drivers, the Truck Series championship could come down to the final laps at Homestead in a few weeks.

Have a great week and see you soon.

Pre-Weekend Quick Takes

Spencer Neff

Twitter:@NeffOnSports11

Thank you for reading and I hope you had a great week. Here are some of the top stories from the weekend in racing.

1.The Sprint Cup Series returns to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend to close out round two of the Chase. With only Joey Logano assured of a spot in the round of 8, the points battle will be interesting. Although the action at restrictor plate tracks has been somewhat lacking this year, excitement could pick up with the number of green-white-checkered attempts down from three to one, action toward the end of the race will be even more intense.

2. The Camping World Truck Series will also be at Talladega. Currently, Erik Jones has a four-point lead over Matt Crafton and a 16-point lead over Tyler Reddick. Those numbers could fluctuate either way by the end of Saturday’s race, so the event will be worth watching for the excitement on the track and in the points standings.

3. Formula 1 makes their trip to the Circuit of the America in Austin, Texas for the United States Grand Prix. Given Lewis Hamilton’s success at the track, combined with his sizable points lead, he will be tough to beat this weekend. His Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg has had the pace to keep up with Hamilton, but mechanical issues have often crept up on him. Though it may be too late to contend for the title, Rosberg can get some wins and prove he can keep pace with Hamilton.

Have a great weekend and see you soon.

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