Ford EcoBoost 400 Championship Preview

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. — It has all come down to this. After 35 races in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR is ready to crown the 2017 champion this weekend at the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

After Brad Keselowski snuck in last week due to a crash by Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth’s win over Chase Elliott, the Championship 4 is set and ready to battle it out on the 1.5-mile track.

While most at Furniture Row Racing would probably not admit it, Martin Truex Jr. is certainly the favorite going into the final race. This will be Truex’s second appearance in the Championship 4, thanks in part this year to his seven victories — all but one coming on 1.5-mile tracks.

Truex is also the only driver in the Championship 4 that has not won a Cup Series title.

“That means it’s my turn,” Truex said following last weekend’s race at Phoenix.

However, the driver who has won the championship the last three years has also won the race, which would be something Truex would need to overcome if he wants to take home the shiny new Monster Energy Cup. His finishes the last three years are 17th, 12th and 36th. But stats seem to mean nothing Truex, with this season being the best of his career. Truex was able to lock his spot into the final four on points after just the first two races in the Round of 8.

But to win the title, Truex will have to finish better than three veterans who have all stood on the top spot of the podium in the premier series during their career.

Kyle Busch is the most recent champion in the bunch, having won the title in 2015 after missing several races due to leg injuries suffered at Daytona International Speedway that year in the season-opening Xfinity Series race. While it took him a good chunk of the 2017 season to find victory lane, Busch goes into Homestead with five wins this year. But unlike Truex, none of Busch’s wins have come on 1.5-mile tracks.

And while Busch took home the victory in 2015 to seal his championship dream, his average finish at Homestead-Miami is 19.8, with only two top-fives and five top-10s. Aside from his victory in 2015, Busch’s best finish has been been fourth in 2012. He finished sixth last year as part of the Championship 4.

Kevin Harvick won the championship in 2014, the first year of the Championship 4, also winning the race at Homestead-Miami. Harvick’s win total is a little lower than Truex and Busch, with only two wins this season, one coming in the playoffs at Texas to advance him to the Championship 4.

But Harvick is strong at Homestead-Miami, with an all-time best average finish of 6.9 at the 1.5-mile oval. He also has a record eight top-fives at the southern Florida track. In 16 starts at Homestead, Harvick has one win, eight top-fives and 14 top-10s. He has led 315 laps at Homestead, second among active drivers.

Harvick enters the final race with four consecutive top-eight finishes. A championship for Harvick this weekend would mean a third title in nine years for Stewart-Haas Racing.

The potential spoiler of the Championship 4 would be Brad Keselowski. The Michigan-born driver is no stranger to the title, having won his championship in 2012, before the current format.

But that’s where the familiarity ends for Keselowski. This is his first appearance in the Championship 4 at the 1.5-mile track.

Keselowski has also never seen victory lane at Homestead. With nine career starts, he has zero wins, two top-fives and three top-10s for an average finish of 15.9, ranking him the lowest of the four drivers going for the title. He and his Penske teammate Joey Logano have also struggled this season. Keselowski stayed alive in the playoffs with a victory at Talladega, and advanced to the Championship 4 on points after struggles from several of his competitors at Phoenix last weekend.

Despite his numbers, however, he has been improving at Homestead. In the last four years he has run better. Keselowski crashed out of last year’s race, but finished third in 2014 and 2015 and sixth in 2013. He led 86 laps in 2015.

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Podcast #39 — The Championship 4 is Set

    • Recap of the Can-Am 500K at Phoenix Raceway
      • Could be last win of his Cup career
      • Matt Kenseth gets the win

 

  • Audio (1:45): Matt cracks a bunch of jokes in post-race press conference

 

      • Passes Chase Elliott to make it happen, knocks Chase out of the Championship four
    • Brad Keselowski is the fourth to get in and race for the championship
    • Chase gets his revenge
      • Good for Chase?
      • Denny’s mistakes (Eric)
      • Talk on Twitter: if you’re OK with what Chase did, have to be OK with what Denny did. True?
      • Are they even?
        • Do we see any more at Homestead?
    • Jimmie Johnson Struggles again
      • Are changes needed on this team?
    • Winners and Losers?
    • Is Phoenix the new Richmond?
      • All three races were wild. All three started calm and ended crazy.
  • Silly Season:
    • No contract yet for Kurt Busch.
      • Expected to happen?
    • What happens to the 27 car/team?
    • Does not look like Danica will be going to Roush.
  • Ford Championship Weekend
    • 12 drivers eligible for three championships this weekend.
    • Trucks:
      • Johnny Sauter: This year: 4 wins, 12 top 5s, 18 top 10s, Av. Finish 6.5
      • Austin Cindric: This year: 1 wins, 7 top 5s, 15 top 10s, Av. Finish 10.5
      • Matt Crafton: This year: 1 wins, 5 top 5s, 15 top 10s, Av. Finish 9.5
      • Christopher Bell: This year: 5 wins, 14 top 5s, 20 top 10s, Av. Finish 5.9
      • Who is your pick?
        • James: Johnny Sauter
        • Eric: Christopher Bell
    • Xfinity:
      • William Byron: This year: 4 wins, 11 top 5s, 21 top 10s, Av. Finish 10.6
      • Elliott Sadler: This year: 0 wins, 12 top 5s, 24 top 10s, Av. Finish 9.4
      • Justin Algaier: This year: 2 wins, 10 top 5s, 17 top 10s, Av. Finish 13.1
      • Daniel Hemric: This year: 0 wins, 5 top 5s, 16 top 10s, Av. Finish 12.5
      • Who is your pick?
        • James: William Byron
        • Eric: William Byron
    • Cup:
      • Martin Truex Jr.: This year: 7 wins, 18 top 5s, 25 top 10s, Av. Finish 9.7
      • Kyle Busch: This year: 5 wins, 13 top 5s, 21 top 10s, Av. Finish 11.8
      • Kevin Harvick: This year: 2 wins, 13 top 5s, 22 top 10s, Av. Finish 11.3
      • Brad Keselowski: This year: 3 wins, 15 top 5s, 20 top 10s, Av. Finish 12.6
      • Who is your pick?
        • James: Kevin Harvick
        • Eric: Kyle Busch
  • Ford 400:
    • James’ Pick: Kevin Harvick
    • Eric’s Pick: Kyle Busch
  • Shoutouts 

Close show

  • Where can we be found on social media?
  • You can find me @Eric8199 on Twitter
  • James @jameskuch on Twitter
  • Facebook @ TheSuperSpeedway

For more of the podcast:

  • Website address: www.thesuperspeedway.com
  • Podcasts will be found on there as well.
  • Find us on iTunes, Google Play and Soundcloud

SuperSpeedway Fantasy League Week 9

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For the second consecutive week, Team Eric squeaked out a victory and now holds a solid lead with 2 races left.

RULES

  • Eric and James each picked 8 playoff drivers, draft style.
  • The total points earned by a driver throughout the playoffs will contribute to the team’s total.
  • Most points earned wins.

ERIC’S TEAM (1,918 TOTAL POINTS/261 RACE TOTAL)

51 Martin Truex Jr.
18 Kyle Busch
47 Denny Hamlin
42 Ryan Blaney
17 Ryan Newman
27 Austin Dillon
40 Matt Kenseth
19 Jamie McMurray

JAMES’ TEAM (1,851 TOTAL POINTS/243 RACE TOTAL)

18 Kyle Larson
32 Brad Keselowski
10 Jimmie Johnson
59 Kevin Harvick
25 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
35 Chase Elliott
38 Kurt Busch
26 Kasey Kahne

Bracket Challenge

Eric and James each filled out a bracket for all 10 races. We are also joined by our follower/friend of the podcast, Todd Henry.

After the round of 16 all three players are tied. Points will resume after the Round of 8 is complete.

 

RULES

  • Each correct pick is worth 10 points per round for the first three rounds.
  • Each correct Homestead Pick is worth 15 points.
  • Pick the Champion and you get 20 points.
  • Most points win.

ERIC’S CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR (170 POINTS AFTER ROUND OF 12)

Martin Truex Jr
Kyle Larson
Kyle Busch
Jimmie Johnson

JAMES’ CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR (170 POINTS AFTER ROUND OF 12)

Martin Truex Jr.
Kyle Larson
Kyle Busch
Kevin Harvick

TODD’S CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR (170 POINTS AFTER ROUND OF 12)

Martin Truex Jr.
Kyle Larson
Kyle Busch
Kevin Harvick

Podcast #38 — Harvick Punches his Ticket to Homestead

  • Recap of the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway
    • Kevin Harvick qualifies
      • Passes Martin Truex Jr. to get it done.
    • Jimmie Johnson Struggles again
    • Who gets the fourth seed?
    • Winners and Losers?
  • Silly Season:
    • Kenseth says he’s likely done at the end of the season
      • Not exactly a surprise, but how big of a deal is this?
    • Aric Almirola in the 10 next year for Stewart Haas
      • Smithfield will sponsor for the full season.
      • Anything newsworthy here?
    • Danica was asked about going to Rousch but wouldn’t confirm or deny.
  • Other news:
    • Tony Stewart might run some Xfinity races next season

 

  • (Audio :26): Stewart about Xfinity.

 

  • Preview the Can-Am 500K at Phoenix Raceway
    • Last race to get into the championship four
      • Likely one spot open. Who gets it?
    • Eric’s Pick: Kevin Harvick
    • Eric’s Dark Horse: Clint Bowyer
    • James’ Pick: Kyle Larson
    • James’ Dark Horse: AJ Allmendinger
  • Shoutouts 

Close show

  • Where can we be found on social media?
  • You can find me @Eric8199 on Twitter
  • James @jameskuch on Twitter
  • Facebook @ TheSuperSpeedway

For more of the podcast:

  • Website address: www.thesuperspeedway.com
  • Podcasts will be found on there as well.
  • Find us on iTunes, Google Play and Soundcloud

 

SuperSpeedway Fantasy League Week 8

Fantasy League Standings after Martinsville

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Wow. What a race that was. Kyle Busch is locked into the Championship round but the SuperSpeedway Fantasy league battles on!

Thanks in part to Denny Hamlin’s boot of Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson stinking up the show for a second consecutive week, Eric has recaptured the lead 1,657 to 1,608.

James’ team was wounded badly following another issue for Larson. Also, the Elliott spin and Kurt Busch wreck at the end of the race were costly at this point in the playoffs.

Eric’s team was dominant again this week with 5 drivers going over 30 points. The Toyota’s came through for his team at an unlikely spot, a short track.

RULES

  • Eric and James each picked 8 playoff drivers, draft style.
  • The total points earned by a driver throughout the playoffs will contribute to the team’s total.
  • Most points earned wins.

ERIC’S TEAM (1,657 TOTAL POINTS/263 FOR THE RACE)

48 Martin Truex Jr.
58 Kyle Busch
31 Denny Hamlin
38 Ryan Blaney
23 Ryan Newman
26 Austin Dillon
31 Matt Kenseth
8 Jamie McMurray

JAMES’ TEAM (1,608 TOTAL POINTS/ 210 RACE TOTAL)

1 Kyle Larson
53 Brad Keselowski
33 Jimmie Johnson
36 Kevin Harvick
27 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
21 Chase Elliott
15 Kurt Busch
24 Kasey Kahne

Bracket Challenge

Eric and James each filled out a bracket for all 10 races. We are also joined by our follower/friend of the podcast, Todd Henry.

After the round of 16 all three players are tied. Points will resume after the Round of 12 is complete.

Round of 12 highlights

James, Eric and Todd all had Larson as the champion. With Larson out there will be no champion points awarded. It comes down to the final four drivers. The only difference is Eric with Jimmie Johnson making it to Homestead.

RULES

  • Each correct pick is worth 10 points per round for the first three rounds.
  • Each correct Homestead Pick is worth 15 points.
  • Pick the Champion and you get 20 points.
  • Most points win.

ERIC’S CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR (170 POINTS AFTER ROUND OF 12)

Martin Truex Jr
Kyle Larson
Kyle Busch
Jimmie Johnson

JAMES’ CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR (170 POINTS AFTER ROUND OF 12)

Martin Truex Jr.
Kyle Larson
Kyle Busch
Kevin Harvick

TODD’S CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR (170 POINTS AFTER ROUND OF 12)

Martin Truex Jr.
Kyle Larson
Kyle Busch
Kevin Harvick

Podcast Episode #37 — Hamlin Came in Like a Wrecking Ball

  • Recap of the First Data 500 at Martinsville
    • Kyle Busch punches his ticket
    • Hamlin/Chase Elliott Battle
      • Hamlin becomes enemy #1
      • Is Chase NASCAR’s next Most Popular Driver?
      • Does Chase retaliate? Should he?
    • Kevin Harvick and Ryan Blaney have issues as well
    • Was there anything wrong with this race?
    • Winners and losers?
    • How important is it for NASCAR to get back to short tracks?
  • Playoffs final four
    • Kyle Busch is locked in, Truex is essentially a lock now. Who will be the other two?
      • James’ pick: Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski
      • Eric’s pick: Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott
    • Who is the 2017 champion now that both of our picks are out the door?
      • James’ pick: Martin Truex Jr.
      • Eric’s pick: Kyle Busch
  • News:
    • Smithfield will sponsor the #10 next season
      • Driver will be named next week.
      • Speculation?
    • Hearing RPM May have a sponsor announcement Friday morning?
    • “Cool News” coming for Roush Fenway Racing?
      • Danica? Kenseth? What could it be?
  • Preview the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway
    • James’ Pick: Jimmie Johnson
    • James’ Dark Horse: Trevor Bayne
    • Eric’s Pick: Chase Elliott
    • Eric’s Dark Horse: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  • Shoutouts

Close show

  • Where can we be found on social media?
  • You can find Eric @Eric8199 on Twitter
  • James @jameskuch on Twitter
  • Facebook @ TheSuperSpeedway

For more of the podcast:

  • Website address: www.thesuperspeedway.com
  • Podcasts will be found on there as well.
  • Find us on iTunes, Google Play and Soundcloud

Podcast Episode #36 — Kyle Larson is Eliminated

    • Recap of the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway
      • Conversation
      • Larson bows out

 

  • Audio (1:03): Truex responds when asked if he has relief about not having to race Larson at Homestead for the championship

 

      • Surprises from the Round of 12
      • Truex continues his dominance.
        • Most wins ever on 1.5 mile tracks in a season
          • 6 of 7 wins are on 1.5s
          • Average finish is under 3.0. Second all time to B. Labonte 2.4
          • 14 career wins/7 this year
      • Big Wreck for Erik Jones/Kenseth penalty
        • What do we think about NASCAR’s ruling on the 20?
      • Martin Tried restart penalty
        • Good call?
        • Should Harvick have been penalized too?

 

  • Audio (:49): Steve O’Donnell talks about the penalty

 

    • Johnson survives the spins and the crash clock
  • Winners/Losers
    • Eric – NBC
  • Other News:
    • Bubba Wallace to the 43

 

  • Audio (:45): Bubba talks about what it means to him

 

  • Preview the First Data 500 at Martinsville
    • Eric’s Pick: Kyle Busch
    • Eric’s Dark Horse: Erik Jones
    • James’ Pick: Brad Keselowski
    • James’ Dark Horse: Chris Buescher
  • Shoutouts

Close show

  • Where can we be found on social media?
  • You can find me @Eric8199 on Twitter
  • James @jameskuch on Twitter
  • Facebook @ TheSuperSpeedway

For more of the podcast:

  • Website address: www.thesuperspeedway.com
  • Podcasts will be found on there as well.
  • Find us on iTunes, Google Play and Soundcloud

SuperSpeedway Fantasy League Week 7

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Fantasy League Standings after Kansas

Just four races remain before we crown a NASCAR Champion and a Fantasy League Champion. Kyle Larson is out but Eric and James battle on.

For the first time since New Hampshire, Eric was able to score more points than James. After this week, it’s virtually deadlocked at 1,398 (James) and 1,394 (Eric).

James’ team was wounded badly following the mechanical issues of Larson. He was aided by the strong runs of Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott.

Eric’s team was dominant when it came to the stages. Martin Truex, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney all put up huge numbers – each driver over 40 points. The damage could have been worse if not for the Erik Jones accident that crippled the bottom of Eric’s roster.

RULES

  • Eric and James each picked 8 playoff drivers, draft style.
  • The total points earned by a driver throughout the playoffs will contribute to the team’s total.
  • Most points earned wins.

ERIC’S TEAM (1,394 TOTAL POINTS/230 FOR THE RACE)

43 Martin Truex Jr.
43 Kyle Busch
50 Denny Hamlin
44 Ryan Blaney
4 Ryan Newman
23 Austin Dillon
10 Matt Kenseth
13 Jamie McMurray

JAMES’ TEAM (1,398 TOTAL POINTS/ 215 RACE TOTAL)

1 Kyle Larson
32 Brad Keselowski
32 Jimmie Johnson
47 Kevin Harvick
8 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
39 Chase Elliott
35 Kurt Busch
22 Kasey Kahne

Bracket Challenge

Eric and James each filled out a bracket for all 10 races. We are also joined by our follower/friend of the podcast, Todd Henry.

After the round of 16 all three players are tied. Points will resume after the Round of 12 is complete.

Round of 12 highlights

James, Eric and Todd all had Larson as the champion. With Larson out there will be no champion points awarded. It comes down to the final four drivers. The only difference is Eric with Jimmie Johnson making it to Homestead.

RULES

  • Each correct pick is worth 10 points per round for the first three rounds.
  • Each correct Homestead Pick is worth 15 points.
  • Pick the Champion and you get 20 points.
  • Most points win.

ERIC’S CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR (170 POINTS AFTER ROUND OF 12)

Martin Truex Jr
Kyle Larson
Kyle Busch
Jimmie Johnson

JAMES’ CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR (170 POINTS AFTER ROUND OF 12)

Martin Truex Jr.
Kyle Larson
Kyle Busch
Kevin Harvick

TODD’S CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR (170 POINTS AFTER ROUND OF 12)

Martin Truex Jr.
Kyle Larson
Kyle Busch
Kevin Harvick

Podcast #35 — Brad Keselowski Wins Talladega Derby

    • Recap of the Alabama 500 at Talladega
      • Keselowski (and 14 others) survive the Dega Derby

 

  • Audio: (1:09) Brad talks about how he got the win.

 

        • Is Brad the best plate racer of his generation
      • Fords dominate the plate tracks in 2017. Sweep all four races with three different teams

 

  • Audio (1:19) Brad talks about why Fords are so good at restrictor plate tracks

 

      • Dale Jr. sticks around until the finish
        • Says he was glad to leave the race behind in good health.

 

  • Audio (1:29): Gluck asks him if there’s any sense of relief after leaving healthy?

 

      • The wrecks
        • What stood out to us in this exciting race
      • Should Talladega (or any plate race) be in the playoffs?

 

  • Audio (1:16): Harvick says it shouldn’t be in the playoffs

 

    • Kyle Busch in trouble
      • Points – It’s down to 4 drivers to make the cut
        • 7. Blaney +9
        • 8. Johnson + 7
        • 9. Busch – 7
        • 10 Kenseth – 8
  • Winners/Losers
    • Other News:

 

  • Audio (1:22) Kligerman and his crew chief defend aggressive driving.

 

    • Roval Tire Test
  • Preview the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas
    • Eric’s Pick: Kyle Busch
    • Eric’s Dark Horse: Jamie McMurray
    • James’ Pick: Jimmie Johnson
    • James’ Dark Horse: Danica Patrick
  • Shoutouts

Close show

  • Where can we be found on social media?
  • You can find me @Eric8199 on Twitter
  • James @jameskuch on Twitter
  • Facebook @ TheSuperSpeedway

For more of the podcast:

  • Website address: www.thesuperspeedway.com
  • Podcasts will be found on there as well.
  • Find us on iTunes, Google Play and Soundcloud

SuperSpeedway Fantasy League Week 6

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Fantasy League Standings after Talladega

Five down, five to go in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. We knew going in that this race would be a mess and it was. But after 4 weeks of scrambling, James’ team has recaptured the points lead 1,183 – 1,164

James’ team survived better than Eric’s thanks to Brad Keselowski’s win and Stage win.

Eric’s team was really hurt by Jamie McMurray’s finish and one point earned. Stage points helped the bleeding for Eric’s team.

RULES

  • Eric and James each picked 8 playoff drivers, draft style.
  • The total points earned by a driver throughout the playoffs will contribute to the team’s total.
  • Most points earned wins.

ERIC’S TEAM (1,164 TOTAL POINTS/167 FOR THE RACE)

14 Martin Truex Jr.
12 Kyle Busch
32 Denny Hamlin
37 Ryan Blaney
35 Ryan Newman
13 Austin Dillon
23 Matt Kenseth
1 Jamie McMurray

JAMES’ TEAM (1,183 TOTAL POINTS/ 223 RACE TOTAL)

24 Kyle Larson
59 Brad Keselowski
23 Jimmie Johnson
20 Kevin Harvick
18 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
28 Chase Elliott
21 Kurt Busch
30 Kasey Kahne

Bracket Challenge

Eric and James each filled out a bracket for all 10 races. We are also joined by our follower/friend of the podcast, Todd Henry.

After the round of 16 all three players are tied. Points will resume after the Round of 12 is complete.

Round of 16 highlights

No player picked Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to advance to the Round of 12.

Eric had Ryan Newman moving on.

James and Todd each picked Kurt Bush to advance. James also has Bush advancing to the Round of 8.

RULES

  • Each correct pick is worth 10 points per round for the first three rounds.
  • Each correct Homestead Pick is worth 15 points.
  • Pick the Champion and you get 20 points.
  • Most points win.

ERIC’S CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR (110 POINTS AFTER ROUND OF 16)

Martin Truex Jr
Kyle Larson
Kyle Busch
Jimmie Johnson

JAMES’ CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR (110 POINTS AFTER ROUND OF 16)

Martin Truex Jr.
Kyle Larson
Kyle Busch
Kevin Harvick

TODD’S CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR (110 POINTS AFTER ROUND OF 16)

Martin Truex Jr.
Kyle Larson
Kyle Busch
Kevin Harvick