Sunday, May 24, 2015

Edwards Wins Coca-Cola 600

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Carl Edwards won the Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday night.

Edwards won after stretching his fuel mileage to the limit late in the race.  Edwards said it was his crew chief Darian Grubb who got him to victory lane.
Photo courtesy Adam Neimeyer

“Darian does such a good job, and ever since Tony [Stewart] and I battled for that championship, I’ve wanted to work with him,” Edwards said.  “That’s what he does on the box, he takes a mediocre day like that and he puts us in a good position.”

Edwards, who moved from Roush-Fenway Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing in the offseason, picked up his first victory for JGR.  Edwards said he hopes this victory is the first of many.

“I was the slowest of the group tonight, and I just had the best guys on pit road,” Edwards said.  “Hopefully all that bad luck we’ve had is equaled out by the good luck today.”

Martin Truex Jr. had the strongest car of the night, leading 131 of 400 laps.  Truex had to pit late in the race for fuel, and ended up finishing fifth when the leaders didn’t run out of gas.  Truex said his team is on the right track and just needs some luck to get to victory lane.

“I don’t know what to do about fuel mileage races,” Truex said.  “I’ve never…come out on the right end of them.”

“We just got to keep plugging away and sooner or later we’re going to get a little bit of luck on our side.  It hurts to come home fifth and lead that many laps, but at the same time, it’s pretty awesome to run like that too.”

Unofficial results:

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

Photo courtesy Jerry Markland/Getty Images
Shoutout to Adam Niemeyer for the picture of Carl Edwards at the top of the post.  For more work from him, check out his blog.

Montoya Wins Indianapolis 500

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Juan Pablo Montoya won the 99th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday afternoon.

Montoya picked up his second career Indianapolis 500 victory 15 years after winning his first.  Montoya said the victory was a big one.

“This is too much, it’s pretty unbelievable,” Montoya said.  “That was awesome.”
Photo courtesy Andrew Weber/USA Today
Montoya was running in the back of the pack early in the race, and had to fight his way back to the front.  At one point, Montoya was as low as 30th after having to make multiple pit stops under the first caution to replace a rear right wing.

“This Chevy was good all day,” Montoya said.  “Team Penske did an amazing job.  When we came through the field we had a really good car.”

Montoya raced hard with Scott Dixon and teammate Will Power over the final 15 laps.  Montoya made the final pass for the lead with a daring move on Power with three laps to go.

“That fight at the end was hard,” Montoya said.  “This is what racing and IndyCar is all about.  It’s awesome racing all the way down to the wire.”

“It’s pretty awesome.”

Unofficial results:

1. Juan Pablo Montoya
2. Will Power
3. Charlie Kimball
4. Scott Dixon
5. Graham Rahall
6. Marco Andretti
7. Helio Castroneves
8. JR Hildebrand
9. Josef Newgarden
10. Simon Pagenaud
11. Sebastien Bourdais
12. Ryan Briscoe
13. Takuma Sato
14. Townsend Bell
15. Ryan Hunter-Reay
16. Gabby Chaves
17. Alex Tagliani
18. James Jakes
19. Simona de Silvestro
20. Carlos Munoz
21. Justin Wilson
22. Pippa Mann
23. Sebastian Saavedra
24. Jack Hawksworth
25. Stefano Coletti
26. Tony Kanaan
27. James Davison
28. Tristan Vautier
29. Oriol Servia
30. Ed Carpenter
31. Bryan Clauson
32. Sage Karam
33. Conor Daly

Friday, May 22, 2015

Review: NASCAR '15

NASCAR '15, the newest NASCAR video game, was released on Friday exclusively at Gamestop. 

The game, released by developer Dusenberry Martin Racing, is a standalone update to NASCAR '14, which was released last year by Eutechnyx.  Because the game was developed by two separate publishers, NASCAR '15 is an update to that game rather than a completely new experience.  That will come with next year's NASCAR '16, which is being built from the ground up for PS4 and Xbox One.

I picked up my copy today and played through all of the modes.  So, does NASCAR '15 head to victory lane, or does it run in the back of the pack, mired by the shortfalls of its predecessor?  Let's find out.

Single Player
First up, the single player modes are exactly the same as last year's game.  You pick your driver, your track and the difficulty settings before hitting the track.  This mode is pretty straightforward, and it is done fairly well.  I didn't have any problems during a 40-lap event at Charlotte on 70% difficulty.  I started from the back of the pack and quickly worked my way to the lead.

The campaign mode is also the same as last year.  I raced through the beginning test session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and then headed to Daytona for the Daytona 500.

As I raced on the low line around the track, it seemed as though my car was sucked down to the yellow line, and I couldn't seem to stop myself from bouncing off the apron, which is always a disaster at Daytona.  After wrecking in my Duel, I started the Daytona 500 10th, and ran in the lead for most of the race as I held off challenges from Joey Logano and Jeff Gordon.

One thing I would have liked to see was the ability to create a career paint scheme in career mode.  It is a little frustrating to have to go back to the paint booth to add a new sponsor logo.

Ever since NASCAR: The Game 2011, multiplayer has never been a strong suit for the games.  Online multiplayer has always been unreliable at best.  I was hoping for something different this year, but I was disappointed.  In fact, I couldn't actually get to an online race at all.  It just kept coming up with the message "a suitable game could not be found."  Ok.

This was how the race ended. Yep, me and the cover athlete.
The local multiplayer has always been a favorite mode for me, as I'll play it with my friends and cause the biggest wrecks we could.  Unfortunately, NASCAR '14 would freeze in this mode when a big enough wreck was caused.  Fortunately, NASCAR '15 doesn't freeze when you create a huge wreck. It's actually worse.

When the race started, I turned around and waited for the field to come out of Turn 4.  I hit them dead-on, causing a major pileup with cars flying through the air.  The red flag came out for Brian Vickers stuck on his roof, but the game kept going. 

When the race was set to go back green, I somehow gained control of my car going through Turn 3, and then the race went back to the red flag because Vickers was still stuck on his roof.  I was also the leader for some reason, even though I should have been scored 42nd, 1 lap down. That's some lucky dog.

When the race went back green again, I turned around to cause a wreck again.  It was lap 6 of 16, which will be important in a minute.  After I caused the wreck again, Paul Menard crossed the start/finish line and it listed him as the winner. On lap 6. What?

I caused a wreck on the next restart, and again, it listed Kasey Kahne as the winner. On lap 8.

Finally the race restarted again, and for some reason there were only two cars on the track: myself and Jeff Gordon.  I got into Gordon going around the corner, which sent him into the wall, and I won the race on lap 10.  For real this time.

Overall, the multiplayer experience wasn't as broken as last year's, but it's still pretty broken.

NASCAR '15 isn't a bad game, but it is very clear that it is *just* an update.  In fact, every driver only has one paint scheme in the game, which I expect will get rectified with some DLC down the road.  The game fixes some of the things NASCAR '14 did wrong, but it also creates some fun new problems.  But for only $19.99, it could be worse.  If you're looking for an updated game with your favorite driver's scheme from this season, head to Gamestop to pick it up.  I'll keep playing it, hoping they can get it right next year.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Weekly Pull List: 5/20/2015

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

Daredevil #15.1
Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars #1
Guardians of the Galaxy #27
Loki: Agent of Asgard #14
Moon Knight #15
Planet Hulk #1
Powers #3
Secret Wars: Battleworld #1
Spider-Verse #1
Star Wars #5
Ultimate End #1
Uncanny X-Men #34
Wolverines #19

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hamlin Wins Sprint All-Star Race

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Denny Hamlin won the Sprint All-Star Race from Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday night.

The race, split up into four 25-lap segments and a final, 10-lap segment, came down to a final round of pit stops.  After the fourth segment, the field was re-ordered by the average running position at the end of all four segments.  The field had to make a mandatory four-tire pit stop, and Hamlin’s crew got him out front.
Photo courtesy Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
“That pit crew, that’s all I can say,” Hamlin said.  “They carried me all day long, and they got us this victory.”

The win was the first All-Star victory for Hamlin, Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing.  Hamlin said winning this race puts you among NASCAR’s elite.

“You want to win the Daytona 500…and you want to be an All-Star,” Hamlin said.  “Can’t say enough about this whole FedEx Express team.  Everyone from Toyota, getting their first All-Star victory as well.  It’s just an unbelievable experience.”

Clean air was the topic of the day, with many drivers critiquing NASCAR’s current rules package.  Brad Keselowski won the second and third segments, but he said he couldn’t compete with who was out front.

“Whoever gets the clean air with this format and this rules package is going to drive away,” Keselowski said.  “The 41 [of Kurt Busch] and the 4 [of Harvick] were probably 3 to 4 tenths faster, but without clean air it doesn’t matter.”

Harvick ran on Hamlin’s back bumper for most of the final segment, but he lost all his ground with three laps to go.  He said Hamlin saw him coming and made an adjustment.

“He saw us coming there and I was really good in the middle lane,” Harvick said.  “But I needed all the air on the front of the car…my car just took off up the racetrack and lost all the ground I made up.”

One of the biggest stories coming into the weekend was the return of Kyle Busch, who had been sidelined since a crash in the Xfinity Series race at Daytona in February.  Busch, who finished sixth, said the race was a good way to get back in the car with NASCAR’s longest race coming up next week.

“It was definitely progress for what’s going to happen next week,” Busch said.  “We’re looking forward to running 400 laps around here, 600 miles, and trying to get a strong finish.”

Unofficial results

1. Denny Hamlin
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Kurt Busch
4. Jeff Gordon
5. Matt Kenseth
6. Kyle Busch
7. Kasey Kahne
8. Joey Logano
9. Brad Keselowski
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
11. AJ Allmendinger
12. Clint Bowyer
13. Greg Biffle
14. Aric Almirola
15. Jimmie Johnson
16. Jamie McMurray
17. Carl Edwards
18. Ryan Newman
19. Tony Stewart
20. Danica Patrick

Photo courtesy Jerry Markland/Getty Images