Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Weekly Pull List: 4/1/2015

All the comics available this week can be found on Comixology, and any breaking comics news is on Comic Book Resources.

Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #1.1

Arkham Manor: Endgame
Batman and Robin Annual #3
Batman Eternal #52
Harley Quinn #16

Amazing Spider-Man #17
Avengers: Ultron Forever #1
Cyclops #12
George Romero's Empire of the Dead: Act Three #1
Guardians Team-Up #4
Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #11
Return of the Living Deadpool #3
Rocket Raccoon #10
Spider-Gwen #3
The Punisher #17
Uncanny Inhumans #0
Wolverines #13

Voting for 2016 Hall of Fame Now Open

The fan vote for the NASCAR Hall of Fame is now open.  Fans are allowed to choose five nominees from the list of 20.  The top five with the most votes will be submitted as the Fan Ballot on Voting Day.

Voting Day this year will take place on Wednesday, May 20 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  Later that day, the Class of 2016 will be announced live from the Hall of Fame on NBC Sports Network.

Below is my ballot, which should totally be your ballot.
Mark Martin

Mark Martin
This one is a serious no-brainer.  I could not push the vote button faster.  I even made sure I selected him first, even though he's way down on the list.  Seriously, with 96 NASCAR wins across the top three touring series, Martin deserves to be in the Hall of Fame regardless of his lack of championship or Daytona 500 victory. 

Raymond Parks
I have been a huge supporter of getting Parks in the Hall of Fame.  NASCAR may have been built by Bill France, but it was funded by Parks.  If not for Parks' moonshine money, NASCAR may have been bankrupt in those early years.  In my opinion, there is no one more deserving of the Hall of Fame on this list.

Red Byron
Speaking of Raymond Parks, his driver Red Byron should be in the Hall of Fame as well.  Byron won the sanctioning body's first race on the Daytona Beach road course in 1948, and went on to become the sport's first Strictly Stock champion.  Plus, this guy drove with a special brace after being wounded in World War II.  Talk about tough.
Raymond Parks

Benny Parsons
Benny Parsons was a champion in everything he did.  He won 21 races and ran up front most of the time, finishing in the Top 10 an astonishing 54% of the time.  After he retired from driving, he became a commentator for NBC and TNT.  As a major voice of the sport, Parsons remained a commentator until his death in 2007 at the age of 65.

Bobby Isaac
Bobby Isaac won 37 races in his career and the 1970 championship, but it may be his prowess in qualifying that sets him apart.  His 49 poles put him 10th on the all-time list, including 19 in 1969 alone.  19 poles in a single season is still a record, an impressive mark considering that only 38 drivers have 19 or more poles in their entire careers.  In September 1971, he also set 28 world-class records on the Bonneville Salt Flats in his Dodge.  I don't know what that means, but it sounds impressive.

To vote, head here before May 20 to submit your ballot.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hamlin Wins STP 500 in Martinsville

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Denny Hamlin won the STP 500 from Martinsville Speedway on Sunday.
Hamlin took the lead on a late restart and held off Brad Keselowski for the victory.  

Hamlin, who many believed had the strongest car this weekend, said he was happy to pick up his fifth Martinsville victory.

Photo courtesy Nick Laham/Getty Images
“I feel like I’ve missed out on so many grandfather clocks [Martinsville Speedway’s unique trophy] here because of mechanical issues and stuff, we just weren’t going to be denied today,” Hamlin said in victory lane.

Hamlin raced hard with Keselowski over the final 20 laps, with Keselowski getting right to Hamlin’s bumper.  Hamlin said he was glad Keselowski raced him cleanly at the end of the race.

“Hats off to Brad,” Hamlin said.  “He had an option and he took the latter, so I thank him for that.”

Keselowski had his best career finish at Martinsville on Sunday, and he said his car just came in at the right time.

“It just seemed like some runs were good on the long run and some runs we were good on the short run, and at the end we were good at the right time,” Keselowski said.  “I just couldn’t quite make the move I needed to complete the pass but I was right there.”

Keselowski said he and his team are looking forward to returning to the short track later in the season following Sunday’s strong run.  Martinsville will host the first race in the third round of NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup in November.

“This is the best we’ve ever been here,” Keselowski said.  “[Crew chief] Paul Wolfe and the guys have been working to get us a little better here.  It’ll be in the Chase…and this is a good sign coming back.”

Unofficial results:

1. Denny Hamlin
2. Brad Keselowski
3. Joey Logano
4. Matt Kenseth
5. David Ragan
6. Martin Truex Jr.
7. Danica Patrick
8. Kevin Harvick
9. Jeff Gordon
10. Jamie McMurray
11. Kasey Kahne
12. Aric Almirola
13. Clint Bowyer
14. Kurt Busch
15. Casey Mears
16. Regan Smith
17. Carl Edwards
18. Trevor Bayne
19. Greg Biffle
20. Tony Stewart
21. Landon Cassill
22. Cole Whitt
23. Paul Menard
24. Chris Buescher
25. David Gilliland
26. J.J. Yeley
27. Ryan Newman
28. Brett Moffitt
29. Jeb Burton
30. Josh Wise
31. Matt DiBenedetto
32. Sam Hornish Jr.
33. Alex Kennedy
34. Mike Bliss
35. Jimmie Johnson
36. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
37. Alex Bowman
38. Chase Elliott
39. Michael Annett
40. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
41. Austin Dillon
42. Justin Allgaier
43. AJ Allmendinger

Photo courtesy Nick Laham/Getty Images

Monday, March 23, 2015

Weekly Pull List: 3/25/2015

All the comics available this week can be found on Comixology, and any breaking comics news is on Comic Book Resources.

Chew #47
Invincible #118
The Walking Dead #139

Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor #10

Arkham Manor #6
Batman and Robin #40
Batman Eternal #51
Flash #40
Gotham Academy #6
Gotham by Midnight #5

Amazing X-Men #18
Daredevil #14
Darth Vader #3
Deadpool #44
Guardians of the Galaxy #25
Inhumans #13
Legendary Star-Lord #10
Nightcrawler #12
Nova #28
Powers #2
Thanos vs. Hulk #4
Uncanny X-Men #32
Wolverines #12

Fontana a Victory for Team Penske

The race at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday was a big day for Team Penske on all counts.  Brad Keselowski picked up the victory while Joey Logano continued his record-breaking streak.  And they show no signs of slowing down.

Keselowski won the Auto Club 400 in exciting fashion.  He only led one lap, but it was the right one.  He ran fairly decent all day, but it wasn't until a caution late in the race when his crew chief Paul Wolfe made the call that got them the win.
Logano and Keselowski chat at Texas. (Photo courtesy Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

With two laps to go, debris brought out a caution that put the race in the pit crews' hands.  Most of the front-runners took two tires, but Keselowski and company decided to go with four.  When the race went back green, race-favorite Kurt Busch took the lead, and looked poised to win on two tires.  But when another caution came out, that set up Keselowski's improbable victory.

When the green flag came back out, Keselowski shot around Kevin Harvick and set his sights on Busch.  He was able to get around Busch in turns 1 and 2, while Greg Biffle spun on the frontstretch.  NASCAR did not throw a caution, as Biffle was able to drive off, and Keselowski was able to pick up his first victory of the season.

While Keselowski did not dominate the race, the victory shows that the No. 2 team will continue to make the right calls to pick up wins.  Keselowski and Wolfe have always made bold decisions, and now with a victory ensuring them a spot in the Chase, the duo will continue to risk it all for the win.

While his teammate was celebrating in victory lane, Logano was celebrating a new NASCAR record following a seventh place finish.

All the focus has been on Kevin Harvick, and deservedly so.  While he has been finishing first and second for eight consecutive races, Logano has been quietly racking up lead lap finishes.  Only Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon had ever finished on the lead lap for 21 consecutive races.  After the Auto Club 400, Logano is the only driver to have 22.

Logano's last finish off the lead lap was the Camping World RV Sales 301 on July 13, 2014.  He finished 40th after crashing out on lap 211 of 305.  Coincidentally, the winner of that race was Keselowski.

Team Penske is already firing on all cylinders in 2015 (well, except for Keselowski's blown engine at Daytona).  With Logano's Daytona 500 victory and Keselowski's win on Sunday, both teams are already locked into NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Even though the season is still young, it wouldn't surprise any NASCAR fans if the Penske duo were racing each other for the championship in Homestead.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Keselowski Wins in California, Stewart-Haas Dominant

Originally written for CLNS Radio. 

Brad Keselowski made a last lap pass to steal a win in the Auto Club 400 on Sunday.

Keselowski was able to get the surprise victory on a weekend that saw Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick dominate.  Busch led every practice and won the pole for the race, while Harvick qualified second.
Photo courtesy Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
“I knew the 4 [of Harvick] and 41 [of Busch] had kind of been the class of the weekend, and those cars…definitely deserved to win,” Keselowski said in victory lane.  “We kind of stole one today.”

Debris brought out a caution with just two laps to go, setting up a green-white-checkered finish.  While many of the leaders took two tires, Keselowski and his team took four.  When a caution came back out during the first attempt at a GWC, Keselowski was able to put his four tires to good use, outrunning Harvick and Busch for the victory.  

Busch said he understood the outcome was just a product of the racing at Auto Club Speedway.

“We just got hung out on the yellows at the end,” Busch said.  “On that last restart I just didn’t get the job done.  Brad outmuscled us with four tires.”

Harvick, who got his eighth-straight top 2 finish, said it all came down to the amount of cautions at the end of the race.

“The second restart doesn’t come about and two tires was the right call,” Harvick said.  “You never know how the strategy’s going to work out, and you’re kind of on both sides of the fence there as to what you should or shouldn’t do.”

Unofficial results
1. Brad Keselowski
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Kurt Busch
4. Paul Menard
5. Ryan Newman
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
7. Joey Logano
8. Martin Truex Jr.
9. Jimmie Johnson
10. Jeff Gordon
11. Aric Almirola
12. Justin Allgaier
13. Carl Edwards
14. Tony Stewart
15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
16. Austin Dillon
17. Kasey Kahne
18. David Ragan
19. Danica Patrick
20. Chris Buescher
21. Jamie McMurray
22. Brett Moffitt
23. Casey Mears
24. Cole Whitt
25. Landon Cassill
26. Kyle Larson
27. Brian Scott
28. Denny Hamlin
29. Trevor Bayne
30. Clint Bowyer
31. Matt Kenseth
32. Greg Biffle
33. Alex Bowman
34. AJ Allmendinger
35. David Gilliland
36. Josh Wise
37. J.J. Yeley
38. Michael Annett
39. Jeb Burton
40. Mike Bliss
41. Brendan Gaughan
42. Matt DiBenedetto
43. Sam Hornish Jr.

Photo courtesy Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Weekly Pull List: 3/18/2015

All the comics available this week can be found on Comixology, and any breaking comics news is on Comic Book Resources.

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor #6

Batman Eternal #50

All-New X-Men #39
Amazing Spider-Man #16.1
Cyclops #11
Guardians Team-Up #3
Hulk #13
Loki: Agent of Asgard #12
Magneto #16
Moon Knight #13
Princess Leia #2
Silk #2
Storm #9
The Punisher #16
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3
Wolverines #11

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Kevin Harvick Dominates at Phoenix

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Kevin Harvick won the CampingWorld.com 500 on Sunday for his fourth consecutive victory at Phoenix International Speedway.
Photo courtesy Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Harvick’s victory was his seventh-straight finish of first or second, the first driver to match those numbers since Richard Petty did it in 1975.  Harvick’s consistency has squashed any talk of a championship hangover for the No. 4 team.

“It’s almost scary how well things are going,” Harvick said in victory lane.  “I think when you look at the start of this year, we just know each other so much better.  We have a lot of things different than what we had last year.”

Harvick, following his win last weekend at Las Vegas, was a favorite heading into the weekend that saw the driver race on one of his best tracks.  He said racing in the XFinity Series race on Saturday helped set up his good run Sunday.

“The restarts were just really slippery, and I learned that in the race yesterday,” Harvick said.  “You had to really maintain your entrance speed and really slide the thing through the center of the corner to try to keep it pointed off.”

The race also saw the return of Harvick’s teammate Kurt Busch, who was reinstated by NASCAR on Wednesday following a three-week suspension for a domestic violence incident with his ex-girlfriend.

Busch finished fifth on Sunday, and said the finish was a testament to the strength of his team.

“Personally it’s great to get back to them and produce a result like this on our first day back,” Busch said.  “To run up there, to almost lead a lap…the way that we raced today was with heart.  I think there could have been enough good will in the tank to bring home a win, but Kevin’s tough.”

Unofficial results:
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Jamie McMurray
3. Ryan Newman
4. Kasey Kahne
5. Kurt Busch
6. Brad Keselowski
7. Martin Truex Jr.
8. Joey Logano
9. Jeff Gordon
10. Kyle Larson
11. Jimmie Johnson
12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
13. Carl Edwards
14. Paul Menard
15. Austin Dillon
16. Matt Kenseth
17. AJ Allmendinger
18. Justin Allgaier
19. Aric Almirola
20. Casey Mears
21. David Ragan
22. Landon Cassill
23. Denny Hamlin
24. Clint Bowyer
25. Cole Whitt
26. Danica Patrick
27. Greg Biffle
28. Trevor Bayne
29. David Gilliland
30. Alex Bowman
31. J.J. Yeley
32. Brett Moffitt
33. Mike Bliss
34. Jeb Burton
35. Matt DiBenedetto
36. Josh Wise
37. Brendan Gaughan
38. Alex Kennedy
39. Tony Stewart
40. Sam Hornish Jr.
41. Brian Vickers
42. Michael Annett
43. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Photo courtesy Chris Graythen/Getty Images