Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Weekly Pull List: 9/28/2016

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

Back to the Future #12
Back to the Future: Citizen Brown #5

Saga #38

Captain Marvel #9
Civil War II: Kingpin #3
Deadpool #19
Deadpool Annual #1
Drax #11
Extraordinary X-Men #14
Nova #11
Rocket Raccoon and Groot #10
Spider-Gwen #12
Spider-Man Deadpool #9
Spider-Woman #11
Star Wars #23
Web Warriors #11

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Harvick Wins at New Hampshire

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Kevin Harvick won the Bad Boy Off Road 300 from New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday after taking the lead on a late restart.

Harvick started deep in the field on Sunday, but he worked his way up to the front and took the lead at the end of the race.  He held off Matt Kenseth over the closing laps to pick up the victory.
Jonathan Ferrey (Getty Images)
“My team was pretty good on the restarts,” Harvick said.  “Once we got clean air there at the end, we wound up being pretty good out front.”

Harvick needed a good run to get into the next round of the Chase after a 20th-place finish last weekend at Chicagoland.  Harvick said his team came looking for a good run and got the victory instead.

“One of our main goals this year was to not stress ourselves out so bad, and I feel like the performance of the car and the things we’re doing are good enough to be competitive.  We just need to not make mistakes and go from here.”

Kenseth finished second after leading most of the final 100 laps.  Kenseth said his late-race battle with Martin Truex Jr. affected his chances of holding off Harvick.

“We were pretty good…we just didn’t get that last adjustment in,” Kenseth said.  “The 78 [of Truex] was a lot better than we were and we just burned the right rear off trying to hold him off.”

“Just went really late in the restart zone, and [Harvick] anticipated it just right and laid back, plus I spun the tires.  Got beat through 1 and 2 and then it was over.”

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

Rainier Ehrhardt (Getty Images)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Weekly Pull List: 9/21/2016

All the comics available can be found on ComicList, and any comic book news is on CBR.

BOOM! Studios
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers #7

Chew #58

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #9
Amazing Spider-Man #18
Astonishing Ant-Man #12
Carnage #12
Civil War II #5
Civil War II: Choosing Sides #6
Civil War II: X-Men #4
Deadpool V Gambit #5
Extraordinary X-Men Annual #1
Guardians of the Galaxy #12
Punisher #5
Uncanny X-Men #13
Venom Space Knight #12
Vision #11
Vote Loki #4

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Truex Wins Chase Opener

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

 Martin Truex Jr. won the first race of the Chase on Sunday at the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 from Chicagoland Speedway.
Jonathan Daniel (Getty Images)

Truex had to fight rookies Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney late in the race for the lead.  After chasing Elliott down in the closing laps, a spin brought out the caution to send the race into overtime.  After pitting, Truex started behind three cars that stayed out on old tires.  He got by Blaney on the restart, and held onto the lead over the final two laps.

Truex said this victory was exactly how his team wanted to start off the Chase.

“This is how we wanted to start it off; it feels awesome,” Truex said.  “Everybody on this team…gave us everything we need.”

Truex is now locked into the next round of the Chase because of his victory on Sunday.  He said his team will still go out and try to win the next two weeks.

“We have more races to win and we can win some.  At the end of the day, it was a total team effort, and that’s what it’s going to take to win a championship.”

Elliott finished third after leading late in the race.  He said his team just couldn’t overcome restarting fifth on the final restart.

“Feel like we did a good job controlling the things we could control today,” Elliott said.  “There’s some things you just can’t control with the amount of guys that stay out and line up on the restart.  We played the cards we were dealt and we came up short.”

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

Kena Krutsinger (Getty Images)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

REVIEW: NASCAR Heat Evolution

On Tuesday, Dusenberry-Martin Racing released NASCAR Heat Evolution, the first NASCAR video game for PS4 and XBox One.  I've been on track since Tuesday, and I have to say, my reaction to the game has been what it has been all through development: meh.

When you first fire it up, NASCAR Heat Evolution gives five racing options: Race, Challenges, Championship, Career and Multiplayer.  Race is just what it sounds like, allowing you to pick a driver and jump right into on-track action.

Challenges allow the player to participate in real-world racing action, with the player getting a second chance at accomplishing something a driver wasn't able to do in real life.  The first challenge that unlocks puts you in the cockpit of Brad Keselowski's "BRAD" Ford (beer sponsors are not in the game, along with Clint Bowyer's 5 Hour Energy).  A pretty basic challenge, you start inside the top 20 and need to win in 5 laps.  I even downloaded the Toyota Challenges pack that gives the player four more options with Toyota drivers.  Same as the Keselowski challenge, I blew the competition away.

The Championship mode is just the basic season mode, where the player can take their favorite driver all the way to Homestead to fight for the Sprint Cup.

Career mode allows the player to create a driver and start them on a NASCAR journey.  You first get a pretty crappy car, and through good finishes, race winnings and sponsorship deals, you can work to improve your car's performance.  Until then, you'll get to find out how Matt DiBenedetto feels as you fight hard for a Top 25.

Multiplayer promises 40-player lobbies, creating the most authentic NASCAR experience online.  Unfortunately, I haven't found any rooms with that many players.  In fact, the one online race I did play was one-vs.-one match because only one other player stuck around for the actual race.

After playing with it for almost a week, the whole game feels like it was rushed to the shelves.  The graphics looks like they're out of a game from last generation, which is really irritating.  The handling of the cars is a little off, and this is probably due to weird physics.  Don't try to brake while turning the car, the back end will just step out on you and you'll have to correct your driving to save it.  I shouldn't be able to get around Martinsville without braking, but that's exactly what I had to do.

Get used to this view. It's the only one you're going to get.
The game also doesn't offer custom paint schemes.  In the old games, I would spend hours to make the perfect paint scheme to take to the track, and then I would take pictures of it in racing action.  But I don't even have that option in this game either.  In fact, the pause menu doesn't even give you any options other than Resume, Restart or Exit Race.  The only way you can get a screenshot is to use the Share button on the PS4 controller (I don't know what this means for XBox).

The game also lacks many simple abilities that we take for granted in racing games.  You have to flip between the HUD, so you can't see your lap times and your car's damage at the same time.  The camera is also locked into position, so you can't look around your car.

Overall, NASCAR Heat Evolution is a major misstep.  This game offers less features than NASCAR '15, but at least it costs three times as much. 

Would I buy this game again?  Yes, but not for $60.  This bare-bones racing game is not what NASCAR fans deserve after suffering through bad iterations the past few years.  I think it's time to give the license back to EA and let it go.

Final score: 5/10.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Weekly Pull List: 9/14/2016

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

BOOM! Studios
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Pink #3

All-New X-Men #13
Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man #4
Civil War II: Ulysses #2
Deadpool #18
Gwenpool #6
Rocket Raccoon and Groot #9
Spider-Man #8
Spider-Man 2099 #15

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Austin Dillon Set for First Career Chase Run

Austin Dillon raced his way into the Chase for the Sprint Cup on Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.

Dillon locked himself into the Chase with a 13th-place finish on Saturday.  Dillon said he had a stronger car than his finish showed.

Austin Dillon speaks to his crew earlier this season at
Kentucky. Brian Lawdermilk (Getty Images)
"Our goal was to race the 1 [of Jamie McMurray] all night, that's who we needed to race," Dillon said.  "Stayed on his strategy, and finished where we needed to.  I think if we would have played it like a regular race, we'd have had a good shot at a top 10 or top eight."

Dillon, in his third season in the Sprint Cup Series, is having his best season at NASCAR's top level.  He already has more top 5's (4) and top 10's (10) this year with 10 races remaining than he has had in his first two years combined.

With Dillon still winless in his Sprint Cup Series career, crew chief Slugger Labbe said after the race that next weekend's race at Chicagoland is the most important.

"First part of our goal is done," Labbe said on the radio following the checkered flag.  "Focus on Chicago; that's the one we're going to win.  That's the one that matters."

Dillon said he was happy to have a strong sponsor and team behind him heading into his first championship run.

"Proud of this Dow team," Dillon said.  "Dow has stuck by me for three years now.  They've made this such an easy process for me, having a sponsor like them and a partner."

Dillon is now in position to do something no driver has ever done in history: win a Championship in all three of NASCAR's touring series.  Dillon won the 2011 Camping World Truck Series Championship and the 2013 Xfinity Series Championship, and now has the chance to win his first Sprint Cup Series Championship. 

Dillon said the last few weeks have been stressful as a winless driver heading towards the Chase cutoff.

"I'm going to have fun, I've been stressed out for the last three weeks.  Not going to lie, I've lost some sleep."

In post-race interviews, Dillon sounded confident he could contend for a victory next weekend.

"Definitely don't want to be in that situation next year; I want to have a win.  But hopefully our first win comes next week at Chicago."

"Time to have some fun in the Chase."

Chris Graythen (Getty Images)

Hamlin Wins, Chase Field is Set at Richmond

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Denny Hamlin won the Federated Auto Parts 400 from Richmond International Speedway on Saturday night.

Hamlin won from the pole and led 189 laps.  Hamlin said his team gave him a fast car for the weekend.  

Getty Images
“Our cars are really running well,” Hamlin said.  “Finally everything just kind of worked well for us all day.  Really got it dialed in there for the last half of the race.”  

The race was the final race before NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.  The playoff field was set following the checkered flag, with Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and Jamie McMurray making it in on points, along with the other 13 winners from this season.

Hamlin said this win will give his team the momentum they need heading into the final 10 weeks of the season.

“We’ve got everything going well for us.  Proud of this whole team; everything’s been great.  Hopefully we’ll go on another Chase run.”

The Chase kicks off next weekend at Chicagoland.  For Chris Buescher, Kyle Larson, Elliott and Dillon, it will be their first trip to NASCAR’s playoff.

Elliott said his team is looking forward to fighting for a championship all the way to the finale at Homestead.

“We’re excited about these next 10,” Elliott said.  “I think we have to go in with the mentality that we give ourselves a chance at Homestead; if not, we should have let the next one in.”

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

Getty Images