Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Weekly Pull List: 11/25/2015

All the comics available this week can be found on ComicList, and any comic book news is on Comic Book Resources.

Dark Horse
Fight Club 2 #7

Batman and Robin Eternal #8
Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1
Flash #46
Grayson #14

Chew #52
Saga #31

Carnage #2
Chewbacca #4
Darth Vader #13
Groot #6
Guardians of the Galaxy #2
Silk #1
Venom Space Knight #1

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Kyle Busch Wins at Homestead, Crowned Sprint Cup Champion

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Kyle Busch won the Sprint Cup Championship following his victory in Sunday’s Ford Ecoboost 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Busch had to fight back from adversity all season.  After being injured in the first Xfinity Series race of the season, Busch missed the first 11 Sprint Cup Series races.  Upon his return, he was able to win four races over the summer to race his way back into the top 30 in points and fight his way into a Chase spot.

Photo courtesy Chris Graythen/Getty Images
“The rehab and getting back…and getting focused was the hardest part and the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through,” Busch said in victory lane.  “I just can’t believe it with everything that’s happened this year.”

A caution with 11 laps to go set up an exciting finish, and Busch was able to get around Brad Keselowski on the final restart to take the lead.  Busch was able to run away from defending champion Kevin Harvick to win the race and his first Sprint Cup Championship.  Harvick said the handling on his car went away over the final run.

“We were just struggling all night to be honest with you,” Harvick said.  “After last year, I felt like we had everything going our way.  Congratulations to the 18 team and everything they did.”

The race also saw Jeff Gordon’s legendary career come to a close.  Gordon finished his career with 93 Sprint Cup Series victories and a record 797-consecutive starts, starting every race since his Sprint Cup debut on November 15, 1992.  

“Who would have ever thought coming from Indiana as a Sprint Car driver…come south to North Carolina to race for Bill Davis and then get the opportunity to work with the greatest owner in the Cup Series that there’s ever been,” Gordon said.  “It’s been a most amazing experience.  It’s a happy, good day.”

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

Photo courtesy Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Four Storylines Converge at Homestead for Championship Finale

This Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Ford EcoBoost 400, where the 2015 champion will be crowned.  Below are the four drivers who will be competing for the Sprint Cup Series trophy.

1. Jeff Gordon
Wins: 1
Top 5s: 5
Top 10s: 20
Average Finish: 13.9
Major Storyline:
Jeff Gordon's final race will come with the chance to pick up his fifth Sprint Cup Series championship.  Gordon announced that 2015 would be his last season in the Sprint Cup Series, and he will be the fan-favorite heading into Homestead.  All the focus will be on Gordon this weekend as he looks to close out his Sprint Cup career with a storybook ending.

2.Kevin Harvick
Wins: 3
Top 5s: 22
Top 10s: 27
Average Finish: 8.9
Major Storyline:
Kevin Harvick came into 2015 as the defending champion with crew chief Rodney Childers, and with a season already under their belt many expected them to be a force to be reckoned with.  Harvick got off to a fast start, winning at Phoenix in the second race of the season.  But a winless drought during the Chase put the team in jeopardy at Talladega, where a controversial finish helped keep his Chase alive.  Harvick will head to Homestead the defending winner, looking to repeat as race winner and NASCAR champion.

3. Kyle Busch
Wins: 4
Top 5s: 11
Top 10s: 15
Average Finish: 11.2
Major Storyline:
The idea of Kyle Busch in a Sprint Cup car this season following a scary wreck at Daytona in the season-opening Xfinity race is impressive enough.  The fact that Busch was able to win races and work his way into the top 30 in points to make the Chase after missing the first 11 races is incredible.  Busch will be looking to pick up one final victory at Homestead, and become an improbable champion who defied near insurmountable odds to get there.

4.Martin Truex Jr.
Wins: 1
Top 5s: 8
Top 10s: 22
Average Finish: 12.2
Major Storyline:
Martin Truex Jr. is the lone-wolf of NASCAR.  His team, Furniture Row Racing, is based out of Denver, Colorado, far away from the hub of NASCAR in Charlotte, NC.  After a rough year personally and professionally in 2014, Truex returned to victory lane in 2015 in one of the more popular victories in the NASCAR garage.  Now Truex finds himself heading to Homestead with a shot at winning his first championship for the single-car team.

The Championship Four at Media Day on Thursday afternoon. (Photo courtesy Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Weekly Pull List: 11/18/2015

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

Batman and Robin Eternal #7
Harley Quinn #22

Godzilla in Hell #5

Invincible #125

Astonishing Ant-Man #2
Deadpool #2
Extraordinary X-Men #2
Spider-Woman #1
Star Wars #12
Star Wars Vader Down #1
Star-Lord #1

Monday, November 16, 2015

Opinion: NASCAR Obligated to Finish Race for Fans, Drivers

NASCAR's penultimate race of the 2015 season ended after just 219 of 312 scheduled laps due to rain, but the sanctioning body had an obligation to race to the scheduled distance with so much on the line.

Following Sunday's Quicken Loans 500 from Phoenix International Raceway, four drivers were eliminated from the Chase for the Sprint Cup in the final cut of this year's Chase.  Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Joey Logano went to Phoenix needing a victory, but NASCAR took that away from those four drivers.
Photo courtesy Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Rain delayed the start of the race by 6.5 hours.  The race started around 9:00 PM EST, instead of the scheduled green flag time of 2:45 PM EST.  After racing for close to 2.5 hours, the rain came again and the drivers were brought down pit road under the red flag.  The red flag lasted less than 15 minutes before Dale Earnhardt Jr. was declared the winner and the field for the Chase finale was set.

NASCAR owed it to the fans and drivers to finish the race at its scheduled distance.  NASCAR has already finished races later than 11:30 this season.  The July Daytona race finished well after 3:00 AM EST following numerous red flags that stretched the normal four hour race window into an over 12-hour affair.

This year's Chase has already been mired by controversy.  At Talladega, Kevin Harvick made contact with Trevor Bayne, causing the Big One to strike on the one and only green-white-checkered finish.  Harvick's engine had been blowing up, and the accident allowed him to move on to the next round of the Chase, while Earnhardt was elminated by a few feet when the caution came out.  Earnhardt's win on Sunday did nothing to help him win a championship, while Harvick's second-place finish allowed him to move on to the finale at Homestead.

Then at Martinsville, Logano was leading the race when Matt Kenseth, whom Logano had spun while racing for the lead at Kansas two weeks prior, took out the leader, ruining Logano's Chase chances.  Kenseth was suspended for the Texas and Phoenix races, but Logano was eliminated following the Phoenix race.

Logano finished third at Phoenix, and was poised to make a run for the victory when the race went back green.  But NASCAR called the race after losing the track at a racetrack with no curfew or noise ordinance, dashing his hopes of a comeback.

NASCAR also owed it to the fans who had stuck with the race all day in person and at home.  The fight for the final Chase spot was just heating up when the rain came.  Edwards was battling with Martin Truex Jr. for the final Chase spot, but a Logano victory would have knocked them both out of the Chase.  Exciting stuff, if it had happened.

I think it's time NASCAR takes a good look at the way the sport is headed.  With falling TV ratings  in every race of the Chase, many fans are tuning out (even though the fat paycheck NASCAR gets from FOX and NBC gives them millions of reasons to look the other way).  And with NASCAR's inconsistent calls on the track, it's no wonder.

NASCAR let the drivers and fans down when they called the race on Sunday, cutting off an exciting finish that was shaping up, a product of the championship format they had created.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Wins Wet, Weird Phoenix Race

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the rain-shortened Quicken-Loans 500 from Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday night.
Photo courtesy Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Earnhardt won after the race was stopped following rain at lap 219.  The start of the race was delayed by 6.5 hours earlier in the day due to rainstorms throughout the day.  Earnhardt took the lead by pitting before the final caution came out, and he said his team’s strategy got him to victory lane.

“My team guys are very proud of this because they gave me a great car,” Earnhardt said.  “It is a rain-shortened race…a win’s a win.  You’ll take it and put it in the record book.”

Following the race, four drivers were eliminated from the Chase for the Sprint Cup.  The four drivers eliminated were Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.  

Next weekend at Homestead, the Sprint Cup Series championship will be decided among four drivers.  Whoever finishes first among Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. will be crowned the 2015 Sprint Cup Series champion. 

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

Photo courtesy Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images