Sunday, February 28, 2016

Jimmie Johnson Wins at Atlanta, Ties Dale Earnhardt

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Jimmie Johnson won the Fold of Honor QuikTrip 500 from Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon after a late wreck caused the race to end under caution.

Photo courtesy Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
Johnson had to use strategy to get ahead of Kevin Harvick, who was the most dominant car all day.  When a late caution came out, Johnson’s pit crew got him out in first.  Johnson said his crew chief’s call to short-pit with 50 laps to go was what got him the victory.  

“Definitely a gutsy call,” Johnson said.  “The 4 car [of Harvick] was awfully tough and it was going to take some strategy to get by him.”

The victory was the 76th of Johnson’s career, which ties him with Dale Earnhardt.  Johnson said it was an honor to tie a legend.

“With the chaos at the end…I kind of lost sight of that,” Johnson said.  “I remembered on my victory lap coming down and had to come by and throw a ‘3’ out the window to pay respects to the man.”

“There’s a huge void in my career that I never got to race with him, but at least I was able to tie his record there.”

Harvick led a race-high 131 laps, but a bad restart at the end of the race caused him to finish sixth.  Harvick said the handling on his car changed over the last few runs.

“We had issues about the last three runs and I had to start driving the car different,” Harvick said.  “Then we had a slow pit stop and got way behind the 48 [of Johnson].  Just didn’t execute today.”

Unofficial results:
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Kyle Busch
4. Kurt Busch
5. Carl Edwards
6. Kevin Harvick
7. Martin Truex Jr.
8. Chase Elliott
9. Brad Keselowski
10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
11. Austin Dillon
12. Joey Logano
13. Greg Biffle
14. Casey Mears
15. Aric Almirola
16. Denny Hamlin
17. Ty Dillon
18. Paul Menard
19. Matt Kenseth
20. Danica Patrick
21. Jamie McMurray
22. Trevor Bayne
23. Kasey Kahne
24. Ryan Newman
25. Ryan Blaney
26. Kyle Larson
27. AJ Allmendinger
28. Chris Buescher
29. Matt DiBenedetto
30. Michael Annett
31. Brian Scott
32. David Ragan
33. Michael McDowell
34. Regan Smith
35. Clint Bowyer
36. Landon Cassill
37. Cole Whitt
38. Jeffrey Earnhardt
39. Josh Wise 

Photo courtesy Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

NASCAR Hall of Fame Nominees Announced

The NASCAR Hall of Fame announced the 20 nominees for the 2017 Hall of Fame class on Wednesday.

Photo courtesy NASCAR Hall of Fame
Below are the nominees, with new additions in italics.

Mark Martin
Photo courtesy NASCAR
Buddy Baker
Red Byron
Richard Childress
Ray Evernham
Ray Fox
Rick Hendrick
Harry Hyde
Alan Kulwicki
Mark Martin
Hershel McGriff
Raymond Parks
Benny Parsons
Larry Phillips
Mike Stefanik
Robert Yates
Ron Hornaday Jr.
Jack Roush
Ricky Rudd
Ken Squier
Waddell Wilson

NASCAR Hall of Fame voting day will be Wednesday, May 25, 2016.  The 55-person voting panel will convene at the Hall of Fame and cast their votes for the 2017 class.  A 56th ballot will be cast based on a fan vote.

The nominees for the Landmark Award were also announced on Wednesday.
H. Clay Earles
Janet Guthrie
Raymond Parks
Ralph Seagraves
Ken Squier

While the fan vote hasn't begun, below are the five nominees I will be voting for.  Obviously, Mark Martin is among my votes, as is Raymond Parks, who I will continue to campaign for until he gets into the Hall of Fame.
Mark Martin
Raymond Parks
Red Byron
Buddy Baker
Ray Fox

What do you think of the nominees? Who will you vote for this year? Let me know in the comments!

Weekly Pull List: 2/24/2016

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 #9

Batman and Robin Eternal #21
Dark Knight III: The Master Race #3
Grayson #17

Back to the Future #5

Chew #55
Saga #34

All-New X-Men #5
Amazing Spider-Man #1.3
Astonishing Ant-Man #5
Daredevil #4
Drax #4
Silk #5
Spider-Man 2099 #7
Venom Space Knight #4
X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever #1

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Denny Hamlin Wins the Daytona 500

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Denny Hamlin won the Daytona 500 by .01 seconds over Martin Truex Jr. on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.

The finish was the closest in Daytona 500 history, decided by less than four inches.

Photo courtesy Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Hamlin took the white flag in fourth place, and he muscled his way up to the lead over the final lap.  After making contact with teammate Matt Kenseth in turn 4, Hamlin had enough momentum to get past Truex at the end.

“I can’t even figure out what I did, it all just came together,” Hamlin said.  “I don’t know where that came from, or what happened.”

Hamlin and his fellow Toyota Racing drivers ran up front for most of the race, and Hamlin said he wouldn’t have been able to win without that strategy.

“This was a team victory.  This wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for Toyotas sticking together all race long.  So happy to get this victory for Joe Gibbs Racing.”

Truex Jr. was the leader 20 feet from the finish line.  Truex said he thought he could hold off the run from Hamlin.

“I did all I thought I could do,” Truex said.  “He just drafted me and I should have run him up a little bit more, but I thought we were close enough to keep that foot or so.  We lost it at the last second.”

Unofficial results:
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Martin Truex Jr.
3. Kyle Busch
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Carl Edwards
6. Joey Logano
7. Kyle Larson
8. Regan Smith
9. Austin Dillon
10. Kurt Busch
11. Ryan Newman
12. Aric Almirola
13. Kasey Kahne
14. Matt Kenseth
15. Michael McDowell
16. Jimmie Johnson
17. Jamie McMurray
18. Paul Menard
19. Ryan Blaney
20. Brad Keselowski
21. AJ Allmendinger
22. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
23. Landon Cassill
24. Brian Scott
25. Ty Dillon
26. Brian Vickers
27. Michael Annett
28. Trevor Bayne
29. David Ragan
30. Michael Waltrip
31. Bobby Labonte
32. Casey Mears
33. Clint Bowyer
34. Greg Biffle
35. Danica Patrick
36. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
37. Chase Elliott
38. Robert Richardson
39. Chris Buescher
40. Matt DiBenedetto

Photo courtesy Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Earnhardt, Busch Win Can-Am Duels at Daytona

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

 Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch won their CanAm Duels from Daytona International Speedway on Thursday night.
Photo courtesy Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

The twin 60-lap races set the field for Sunday’s Daytona 500, while the front row was set last Sunday with Daytona 500 qualifying.

Earnhardt won the first Duel on Thursday, and said it was a fun race.

“We did a lot of blocking tonight,” Earnhardt said.  “Nothing too crazy, but glad it didn’t have to get that way.”

The victory came on the 15th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s death on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.  Earnhardt Jr. said it was nice to keep adding to his family’s legacy with another Daytona victory.

“Another win at Daytona for the Earnhardts, keep adding to the legacy.  We’re up there in the 50s now with all the wins we have here.  I’m real glad to be able to do that.”

Busch won the second Duel under caution, after a wreck on the final lap took out contenders Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr. and Matt Kenseth.  Busch said he just wanted to have a strong run so he could start up front on Sunday.

“It was pretty quiet and calm there for a long time until the last lap,” Busch said.  “Looking forward to starting the Daytona 500 in the fourth spot, but I’ll probably get the outside front row now that Kenseth got caught up in that mess.”

Dave Blaney and Matt DiBenedetto locked themselves into the 500 with fast qualifying laps on Sunday, while Michael McDowell and Robert Richardson Jr. locked themselves in on Thursday.

Daytona 500 Starting Lineup 
1. Chase Elliott
2. Matt Kenseth
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Kyle Busch
5. Joey Logano
6. Jamie McMurray
7. Ryan Blaney
8. Kurt Busch
9. Kevin Harvick
10. Carl Edwards
11. Denny Hamlin
12. Ty Dillon
13. Kasey Kahne
14. Kyle Larson
15. Greg Biffle
16. Danica Patrick
17. Chris Buescher
18. Brian Vickers
19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
20. Matt DiBenedetto
21. Austin Dillon
22. Michael Annett
23. Trevor Bayne
24. Landon Cassill
25. Brad Keselowski
26. Jimmie Johnson
27. Regan Smith
28. Martin Truex Jr.
29. David Ragan
30. AJ Allmendinger
31. Clint Bowyer
32. Casey Mears
33. Bobby Labonte
34. Aric Almirola
35. Brian Scott
36. Michael Waltrip
37. Paul Menard
38. Ryan Newman
39. Michael McDowell
40. Robert Richardson Jr.

Photo courtesy Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images