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The Lake News Online
  • NASCARRundown: Playing favorites - Identifying NASCAR superstars’ favorite tracks

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    • UP TO SPEED
      Reviews of and opinions on the racing world from Bleacher Report NASCAR writers.
      Predicting Indy
      NASCAR does not classify races as “Majors” like the PGA does, but ...
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      UP TO SPEED
      Reviews of and opinions on the racing world from Bleacher Report NASCAR writers.

      Predicting Indy

      NASCAR does not classify races as “Majors” like the PGA does, but if it did this week’s race at Indianapolis would be one of them. Every driver in the garage dreams of hoisting the trophy from the Brickyard in Victory Lane. Here are my top 10 picks for the race.

      1. Tony Stewart is getting hot, and he is my pick to win this week. The native Hoosier is a two-time winner at the Brickyard and has finished nine of his last 10 races at Indianapolis in the top 10.

      2. Jimmie Johnson has been incredible this year on the flat race tracks. He finished second at Phoenix, sixth at New Hampshire and won at Pocono. Johnson is the driver to beat this week.

      3. Jeff Gordon has the best career stats at the Brickyard. He has the fourth-best driver rating of 101.8, the fifth-best average running position of 11.8 and the third-most laps run in the top 15 with 961.

      4. Matt Kenseth is the only driver who does not drive a Chevy who has a good chance at a top-five finish this week. Kenseth has been good at every race track this year, and there is no reason to think he will struggle on Sunday.

      5. Kevin Harvick is having a career year. He has been one of the most consistent drivers on the racetrack this season and should be again Sunday.

      6. Kyle Busch is another driver who has been good on the flat race tracks. He finished sixth at Pocono and second last week at New Hampshire. Busch has a great chance to qualify in the top five.

      7. Kasey Kahne has not run very well on the flat race tracks this year. He finished No. 19 at Phoenix, No. 36 at Pocono and No. 11 at New Hampshire. He will turn it around this week.

      8. Greg Biffle is the best Ford driver in the field this week. He has the fifth-best driver rating of 98.6, the second-best average running position of 10.1 and the second-most laps run in the top 15 with 1,027.

      9. Jamie McMurray is my sleeper pick this week. He won the race at Indianapolis in 2010 and finished fourth in 2011.

      10. Brad Keselowski has struggled for most of 2013, but seemed to turn it around at New Hampshire. He won the pole for the race and finished fourth.

      - Chad Robb

      Gay driver in NASCAR?

       Most fans probably don’t know Stephen Rhodes — or, at least, they didn’t before recently.

      The late-model racer who made two starts in the Camping World Truck Series in 2003 is looking to return to the series full-time in 2014, thus becoming the first openly gay driver to compete full-time in one of NASCAR’s national touring divisions.

      In a segment for NASCAR Race Hub, as quoted by FoxSports.com, Rhodes said: “I don’t think going into a sport — having to face the ones that either like me or don’t like me — is anything any different than I live any day. I live in the South. I know that NASCAR has a conservative, Southern fan base, and I’m not going to try and change anyone’s minds and their opinions. They’re either going to like me or going to hate me.”

      - Zach Brown
  • It’s no secret that every NASCAR driver has a handful of tracks that they love going to each season. Jimmie Johnson, for example, must salivate every time that Charlotte, Dover or Martinsville come up on the schedule. And what about some of the other big-name drivers? Where does Dale Earnhardt Jr. run the best? And what track does Carl Edwards always have circled on his calendar? Let’s take a look.
    Carl Edwards, Homestead-Miami Speedway
    Edwards’ best track on the schedule is the season-ending race in Homestead-Miami.
    In nine career races at the mile-and-a-half racetrack, Edwards has posted seven top-10 finishes, with five of those ending up in the top five.
    The 560 laps that Edwards has led during his Homestead career are the most in the track’s history.
    Clint Bowyer, Sonoma Raceway
    While most people would guess that Bowyer’s best track is either New Hampshire or Richmond, he has statistically been the best on the road course of Sonoma.
    In eight career starts, Bowyer has posted one win and finished in the top 10 on six occasions. Bowyer has an average finish of 9.1 on the road course and has completed all 887 laps that have been run there during his career.
    Though he has posted multiple wins at both New Hampshire and Richmond, he has only posted a top-10 finish in 15 of the 30 races that he has run there combined.
    Kevin Harvick, Chicagoland Speedway
    Kevin Harvick won the first two races at Chicagoland Speedway and has continued to run strong there ever since. Of his seven career Chicagoland top-10 finishes, six of them resulted in a top five.
    Only two other drivers, Johnson and Tony Stewart, have posted more top-10 finishes in Chicago than Harvick. His average finish of 10.5 also is third-best among drivers who have started at least eight races at the speedway.
    Jeff Gordon, Sonoma Raceway
    Darlington, Indianapolis and Martinsville are just a handful of tracks that Gordon has won at least four races at and posted a top-10 finish in more than half of his career starts on. But ultimately it was his Sonoma dominance that earned it as Gordon’s favorite track.
    Other than Tony Stewart, who has two wins on the track, Gordon is the only driver with multiple victories in wine country. In 21 career starts at the tricky road course, Gordon has amassed five victories, including three straight from 1998 through 2000. He has posted 17 top-10 finishes and even won the pole for five of the races.
    Brad Keselowski, Talladega Superspeedway
    Keselowski’s first career win came in his first start at Talladega Superspeedway. It was a finish that saw Carl Edwards’ car nearly end up in the grandstands, and third-place finisher Ryan Newman had the whole front end of his race car nearly torn off.
    Page 2 of 2 - Since that race in early 2009, Keselowski has scored a second win on the 2.66-mile track. He also has posted six top-10 finishes in nine career starts, and has led at least one lap in all but one of his appearances there.
    Dale Earnhardt Jr., Daytona International Speedway
    If you were to think just in terms of recent history, you might assume that Michigan would be Earnhardt’s favorite track. But over the course of his career, Earnhardt has become a restrictor-plate master.
    Earnhardt’s only two wins driving for Rick Hendrick have come at Michigan. The first came in 2008 and the second was last year. However, in his Michigan career Earnhardt has posted just 10 top-10 finishes in his 28 career races. In the same number of starts at Daytona, he has posted 10 top-five finishes, out of a total of 16 top 10s.
    Jimmie Johnson, Martinsville Speedway
    You could make a case for most of the tracks on the Sprint Cup Series schedule as being a favorite of Johnson’s. But the five-time series champion has been dominant at Martinsville more than any other track.
    In 23 career starts at the paperclip-shaped oval, Johnson has posted eight wins. He has failed to post a top-10 finish in only three of those events, and 16 times he ended his day inside the top five.
    Johnson also has been particularly strong at Charlotte and Dover over the course of his career, with 13 wins combined between the two. He swept the races in Charlotte in both 2004 and 2005, but has scored just one win at the facility since. In 23 races at Dover, Johnson has averaged a ninth-place finish which is bested by only his average finish at Phoenix, and of course Martinsville.
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