NASCAR is mere minutes from dropping the green flag at its biggest oval track, Talladega Superspeedway. The People’s Pitstop has an outstanding lineup for this Sprint Cup race. Now all we need to do is improve the predictions for drivers that will finish in the top 10. Last week’s predictions improved (if that’s the word for it) to 1-3, leaving us with a season record of 4-16. Maybe this is the week we turn things around. One from the front: Only one driver starting in the top five is eligible for selection. Fortunately, that driver won the pole and has won a record 12 times on restrictor plate tracks. Jeff Gordon may not like how plate races work, but he knows how to do well on them. He’ll continue that trend today. One from the back: We have a surprise driver in the back 10 this week. Kevin Harvick only qualified 38th, but he won on this track last year. He’s a good bet to get things done. Two from the middle: Nothing says “confidence” like getting a contract extension from your car owner and sponsor. Greg Biffle may be starting 17th, but he knows where he’s driving in the near future, and that kind of momentum can propel him to the top 10.
Our other pick is Matt Kenseth, who qualified 25th but showed last week that he still knows how to win a race.
Enjoy the race. We’ll be back with the results.
There will be no need to update this post later; we already know who’s starting for the People’s Pitstop. The qualifying session at Talladega Superspeedway is over, and you won’t believe how the Internet’s favorite fantasy NASCAR team did. A List: This poll ended in a dead heat between Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards. The start goes to Johnson, who qualified 2nd, or 18 places ahead of Edwards. B List: The people who vote on this poll clearly knew that Talladega is a restrictor plate track. They gave the win in this poll to Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has a strong history on such tracks. Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman tied for second, and Mark Martin squeaked his way into the fourth spot. But there was no squeaking when it came time to qualify. Martin (3rd) and Earnhardt (4th) earned the starting spots over Bowyer (10th) and Newman (23rd). C List: Even the drivers from the fantasy equivalent of the discount rack found their way to the front of the pack. Paul Menard and David Ragan tied for the top spot in this poll, again. And Menard qualifed 5th, or two spots ahead of Ragan.
If you’ve been paying attention, you know that we got bonus points from Johnson (5), Martin (3) and Earnhardt (1). And this is definitely the first time in People’s Pitstop history that all our starters come from the top five.
We will be back tomorrow with another set of predictions. In the meantime, we have a poll about the fact that NASCAR makes its drivers wear plates for this race. Jeff Gordon, who won the pole, made his thoughts clear. Now it’s your turn. Feel free to vote now.
Here are the lineup poll results.
Sorry this post is so late. Would you believe we were waiting on the verdict? No? Didn’t think so…
Anyway, the People’s Pitstop is red hot. We scored 376 points during last week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. That lifted our season total to 1,944, and it leaves us in second place in the prestigious and competitive 9beersfantasysportstavern group on Yahoo Sports. And you know something? We can catch the group’s leader, Wild Kyle, who sits only 21 points ahead of us.
Here are the details. Matt Kenseth: Started 4th, finished 1st, 169 laps led and 111 fantasy points. Kenseth picked one heck of a time to break that winless streak. And picked a great way to do it; the Internet’s favorite fantasy NASCAR team got a 10-point bonus for having the driver who led the most laps. Clint Bowyer: Started 3rd, finished 2nd, 44 laps led and 101 fantasy points. What’s better than having the best driver in a race? Having the two best drivers, especially when one of them had to make a top-notch save to stay in the top two. Juan Pablo Montoya: Started 14th, finished 13th (1 lap behind the leaders) and 66 fantasy points. Montoya is this week’s “driver who failed to lead a lap” in our lineup. But he’s keeping himself in top 10 lists like this one from the Sporting News. David Ragan: Started 1st, finished 7th, 11 laps led and 98 fantasy points. No, getting his first career pole was not a fluke. He’ll be a contender for the Pitstop’s lineup for some time to come.
Speaking of the lineup, it’s time to pick a new one. NASCAR takes its act to Talladega Superspeedway, where Ragan has his best average finish and will try to avoid the big one. The qualifying session is Saturday, so the polls will stay open until Friday night. Please vote now. Keep your hot streak going–because it’s your hot streak.
It’s a good time to be the People’s Pitstop. The Internet’s favorite fantasy NASCAR team sits in 5th place in the prestigious 9beersfantasysportstavern group on Yahoo Sports. But right now is not a good time to be either a Tampa Bay Rays fan or a follower of this blog’s predictions. After a series of 1-3 performances, the forecasts for top 10 drivers hit rock bottom last week by going 0-4. The season record is now 3-13. However, like the Rays, these predictions have plenty of time to salvage the season. One from the front: Three of the top four drivers in today’s Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway are starting for the People’s Pitstop this week, so they are ineligible for these picks. We’ll go with the only top-four starter who is eligible: Carl Edwards, who also happens to be second in points and won Friday night’s Nationwide race on this very track. One from the back: The pickings are slim once again in the bottom 10. But there is a local favorite lurking here. Bobby Labonte has done well at Fort Worth; he’s won the pole twice and has three finishes in the top five. We’ll take him as the likeliest driver to surge into the top 10. Two from the middle: It’s surprising that Kyle Busch, who leads the way in points and could have won Friday if not for a close encounter with Tim Schendel, is eligible for this pick. However, he qualified 11th, so technically, he’s in the middle. He gets one pick. The other one goes to another “How the heck did he end up back here?” driver, Denny Hamlin. Not only did he win bothraces in Texas last year, but he’s getting praise from folks like Yahoo’s Geoffrey Miller, who’s not ready to write him off just yet.
Enjoy tonight’s race and today’s golf. We’ll be back with the race results.
It doesn’t matter how long or short the voting period is. You, the Internet, come out in droves to vote on the People’s Pitstop’s lineup week after week. Thanks to you, we have a roster of drivers to represent us at Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. A List: It’s a good thing we have two spots to offer from this poll, because it ended in a tie between Kevin Harvick (aka the winner of back to back races) and Matt Kenseth (aka the other guy to win this poll). B List: He might not have a stock car win on an oval track yet, but Juan Pablo Montoya does have a win in a People’s Pitstop poll. He beat a field that included Dale Earnhardt Jr., A.J. Allmendinger and Clint Bowyer, all of whom join him on this week’s roster. C List: Maybe you just like the color brown. Or maybe you’re impressed that he finished in the top 10 last week at Martinsville. Either way, David Ragan is your winner here. He’ll be joined in the lineup by a familiar C List face: Paul Menard.
As usual, the qualifying session will determine which of these racers start and which will ride the pine. Thanks for voting. The results appear below. And a new poll about everyone’s favorite golf tournament is now available for voting. We’ll upate this post when the qualifying session is complete. UPDATED 9:50 P.M. Maybe you voters should consider buying extra Powerball tickets this week. Ragan got his first career pole, and we got 10 bonus points for having the foresight to pick him. Bowyer qualified third and got us 3 bonus points, while Kenseth qualified fourth and got us a single bonus point. They’ll be joined in the starting lineup by Montoya, who qualified a relatively modest 14th.
We’ll be back with some fearless predictions.
You have a couple of hours left to vote on the People’s Pitstop lineup for Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. While you contemplate your votes, let’s consider something that may have gotten lost in the shuffle last week at Martinsville.
Some of you might have noticed that Jimmie Johnson has not won yet this season. (By comparison, by this point last season, the five-time defending Sprint Cup champion had won three times.) At Martinsville, Johnson was essentially taken out of contention when he incurred a speeding penalty on Pit Row. And he did not react well. At all. He climbed out of his car and essentially accused NASCAR of lying.
Yes, he later apologized and said his misunderstood where on Pit Row he was caught speeding. But he still raises two interesting points.
First, he showed one way NASCAR is just like any other sport in North America. There are plenty of examples in plenty of sports where someone criticizing officials or the sport’s sanctioning body was punished for it. Johnson probably will not be suspended for what he said, but he should remember that NASCAR would be well within its rights to punish him for what he did.
Second, he showed one way in which NASCAR is unique among sporting bodies. And not in a good way.
You see, the main difference between Jimmie Johnson being busted for speeding at Martinsville and you being busted for speeding on your local interstate is the defense Johnson can give but you can’t.
“I didn’t know I was speeding.”
Unlike the car sitting in your garage/driveway, the NASCAR machines do not have speedometers. The teams generally record the tachometer’s reading during the pre-race laps and tell the driver to keep the RPMs under that level on Pit Row. But there’s a reason your car has both a tachometer and a speedometer. A traffic cop who pulls you over is never going to ask you “Do you know how many revolutions your engine was turning?”
Johnson is hardly the first person to suggest that NASCAR give the drivers a more accurate tool to measure something so crucial to their chances of winning. And it would make sense for the sport’s governing body to give its drivers as much information as possible about when they’re going to break the rules. When the NFL fines a player for hitting another player out of bounds, it doesn’t have to worry about the fined player saying, “I had no idea where the boundary was.”
Again, you have a couple of hours to make your choices for this week’s race. We’ll be back with the results.
By now, most of America has digested Connecticut’s all-time-ugly win over Butler for the national championship in college basketball, and we’re waiting excitedly for a draft that may be the last action we see from the National Football League for a while. Many people also have had a chance to watch HBO’s Real Sports put the NCAA through the journalism equivalent of a meat grinder. One thing that’s clear from the report is that the NCAA isn’t getting the job done when it comes to maintaining the integrity and amateurism of college basketball and football.
Of course, things don’t have to be this way. To demonstrate that, it’s time to take a look at an individual.
America, say hello to Lionel Messi.
Messi is a forward for FC Barcelona, one of the most powerful soccer clubs in Europe, a place that treats soccer more seriously than America treats any single sport. In 2009, Barcelona won the UEFA Champions League Final, Europe’s answer to the Super Bowl, and Messi was named FIFA World Player of the Year, in part because he can do thingslikethis with a ball. His current contract will pay him a salary of 10.5 million euros (just under $15 million) a year until 2016.
And he never had to step foot on a college campus.
Messi was so talented so early in his life that he was recruited from his native Argentina to join Barcelona’s youth academy in 2000–at the age of 13. One of the things that lured Messi to the academy was the fact that it promised to pay for the drugs he needed to treat a hormone deficiency. (His height is officially listed at 5′ 6 1/2″.) And there was no NCAA to tell Barcelona that it couldn’t offer him this extra benefit. Messi took classes at local schools and trained daily at the academy until he joined Barcelona’s senior team in 2004. He has been there ever since.
And, if this report from London’s Daily Mail is any indication, he was a relative latecomer to the academy. As Albert Capellas, Barcelona’s senior youth coordinator, describes the soccer training, “From the age of seven to the age of 15 everything is about working with the football.”
That’s right; kids who won’t be eligible for Little League for several years are training for a career in soccer. And they don’t have to spend a second worrying about their eligibility.
Here in America, we do things differently. Kids can play professional hockey and baseball (and drive a NASCAR racecar) without taking English 101, but the NBA requires you to wait a year after your high school graduation. That means either taking your chances in Europe or playing by the NCAA’s rules for at least a year. Likewise, the NFL makes you wait three years, and the NCAA doesn’t have to worry about losing quarterbacks to Europe. And as long as people make money off college football and basketball, people are going to cheat at it.
Is the answer to let, say, the Green Bay Packers set up an academy? Maybe not. After all, Barcelona doesn’t have a salary cap or a draft, and Americans aren’t much better keeping their youth sports under control. (“Play Their Hearts Out,” George Dohrmann’s book on youth basketball, demonstrates that.) And then there’s the fact that a lot of colleges use their football and men’s basketball teams to finance the rest of their athletic programs, where trading four years of sweat for a debt-free bachelor’s degree is actually a good deal.
But it might be time for us to stop expecting our colleges to serve as minor leagues for our professional sports. Amateurism is a lot easier to accept if you descend from aristocracy, as Baron Pierre de Coubertin did. For many others, turning down LeBron James-level money in exchange for a bachelor’s degree may not be that good a deal anymore.
Disagree? Leave a comment at the link at the bottom of this post, and tell me what you think.
This week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race could have gone much better for the People’s Pitstop, but we’ll take what we got.
What the Internet’s favorite fantasy racing team got was 255 points at Martinsville Speedway. The season total is now 1,568, and we moved up one spot, to fifth place, in the highly competitive 9beersfantasysportstavern group on Yahoo Sports. And here’s how we did it. Denny Hamlin: Started 5th, finished 12th, 89 laps led and 78 fantasy points. Hamlin surprised even the experts by having to pit early and being less than his usually dominant self in Martinsville. A.J. Allmendinger: Started 6th, finished 14th, 6 laps led and 74 fantasy points. Mr. Allmendinger was one of only two Ford drivers to lead this race. Maybe they should fetch some of the cars they lent to American Idol. David Ragan: Started 14th, finished 8th and 76 fantasy points. Ironically, the People’s Pitstop’s only top 10 starting driver at the finish was also the only one who did not lead a lap.
And yes, we’ve saved the worst for last. Kasey Kahne: Started 3rd, finished 39th (281 laps behind the leaders), 1 lap led and 27 fantasy points. To the long list of things you never want to hear about your NASCAR driver, you can add this gem from Mike Joy: “That might be the hardest hit I’ve ever seen at this small a race track.”
Everybody walked away, though, and now they can walk (or fly, really) to Fort Worth for a Saturday night shootout at Texas Motor Speedway. The lineup polls for the People’s Pitstop are now open, but they will close Thursday night, so we can submit a roster in time for Friday’s qualifying session. Please vote now. We’ll be back.
(Oh, and by the way, here are the results for the Final Four poll. Apparently, the people who read this poll are not into underdogs.)
As Sunday dawns on the People’s Pigskin, two things are clear: Two of the choices in the Final Four poll no longermake sense, and it’s time to make a fresh set of predictions for top 10 finishers at this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway.
The people who bring you this blog are in a bit of a slump. For the third week in a row, last week’s predictions went a pedestrian 1-3, leaving us with a very pedestrian season record of 3-9. I’d blame it on the margaritas, but our trip to Vegas is over. Oh, well. Here goes. One from the front: Three of the People’s Pitstop’s starting drivers (Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin and A.J. Allmendinger) start in the top 10, so they’re ineligible for the forecasts. We’ll go with the driver who sits second both in today’s lineup and in the point standings. Ryan Newman gets the call. One from the back: The usual gang of idiots populate the back 10 this week. Since there are no obvious candidates for moving up into the top 10, we’ll go with a feel-good story. Hermie Sadler, a native of nearby Emporia, Virginia, is taking Andy Lally’s spot in the number 71 car. What the heck–we’ll back him. Two from the middle: Fate (and the qualifying session) made these two choices much easier. We’ll take current points leaderCarl Edwards, who starts 23rd, and Jimmie Johnson, who starts 17th, nearly won last week and … well, you already know the resume.
Enjoy the race, and don’t forget to vote in the Final Four poll. We’ll be back with the racing results.