by Jason Ferris - 06/23/2005
Last Week's Recap - Batman Begins 400 ReviewI have always thought that NASCAR had the right idea when it comes to sponsorships. If it is an individual sport, why not sell everything? You see drivers drinking Pepsi at the Coca-Cola 600 and sipping Gatorade, even though Power-Aid is sponsoring the Nextel Cup. I have no problems with that, but a last minute sponsor got their name on the race last week, Batman Begins. At first I thought this was a ridiculous idea, but then I looked at the issue a little deeper. I realized that Batman Begins was the perfect sponsor for this impound race. My reasoning is that you already know what happens at the end of a "prequel" like Batman Begins because you have usually already seen the next movie. The same idea came into my head as I thought about this race -- did anyone really think that Roush wouldn't win? Sorry to ruin the ending if you haven't seen them, but Batman beats the bad guy in the end, and Roush wins again.
Greg Biffle took the checkered flag at Michigan for his fifth win this season. The win also meant that Roush now has eight victories in the first 15 races, which is an unbelievable feet in NASCAR. Tony Stewart did give the Roush team some headaches, leading the most laps, but Roush held him off. Yes, Roush did, since he finished second behind Biffle and right in front of three other Roush drivers, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards, respectively.
Although Stewart did place second, Biffle won the race without much of a late challenge. Stewart did lead the most laps, but in the end, he had to get past other Roush drivers to get to Biffle, and that slowed him down. This week was a perfect example of the "team racing" that I have been talking about all year. You could visibly see that Roush was slowing Stewart down. Roush drivers won't risk their own success for another teammate, but they will help if they can. On the other hand, Joe Gibbs racing (Stewart's team) does not race as a team. This was apparent in the last five laps of the race when Jason Leffler moved aside for Biffle to cruise by and lap him. Leffler is a teammate of Stewart and obviously had no shot at winning since he was running far back in the pack and a lap down with five laps to go. A Roush driver would have slowed the other team down, wait, they did, and they were in a lot better shape to win the race. Teams win in NASCAR, except next week.
This Week's Preview - Dodge/Save Mart 350Last week NASCAR was in my home state, now they are in my current state. Can I just say that I think it's ironic that this is one of NASCAR's only two road races in California wine country. Some NASCAR fans look forward to the road races, but I don't like trying to follow some of the names that pop up.
*** Before I lose all credibility from the casual NASCAR fan, please understand that this is a road race and I am of sound mind while writing this article. Also I will use some names you may not have heard of, and when I say ROBBY GORDON has a great shot, I don't mean Jeff Gordon. ***
Any racecar driver will tell you that road races are a completely different animal than an oval. I know that seems pretty obvious, but it needs to be pointed out because road races equal contenders with names like Boris Said, Ron Fellows and Scott Pruett. Not only are they contenders, but they are favorites. Along with those favorites, the young guns, for the most part, become extreme long shots. The reason for this is that drivers that have come over from Indy Racing, Kart and other open-wheeled racing have a greater knowledge and training on these tracks. Robby Gordon, Tony Stewart and Casey Mears are all experienced open-wheelers and road race drivers, and you will see that on Sunday.
This week there are a lot of long shots, for good reason, but if those are the kinds of bets you like, pick one of the young guns like Vickers (100/1), Kyle Busch (50/1) or Carl Edwards (40/1). But remember they are long shots for a reason, especially on this track. I would like to make a general bold prediction this week; Roush will not win (unless it's Mark Martin).
Winner's Circle for the Dodge/Save Mart 350
Ride to Victory
Jeff Gordon (7/2) I know, this line looks extremely low for a driver that is struggling. But remember, it is Jeff Gordon. His string will snap this week. Jeff is to road races like Tiger Woods is to Majors. He is beatable, but you better bring you're A++ game. He has four wins, four poles, two second and two third place finishes here. Don't forget, he also has four wins at Watkins Glen (the other road track). Its not big money, but it's a good bet.
Robby Gordon (10/1) No, your eyes are not deceiving you. Robby is widely considered one of the best overall racers in the world. He has won on every major racing circuit, whether it's CART, IRL, GP, or even his latest victory, BAJA. What do all of these things have in common? They are predominantly road circuits. He swept the road races in 2003 and consistently finishes in the top 10. This is one of only two weeks I recommend this Gordon.
Tony Stewart (8-1) Stewart got his start running open wheel races and has a big advantage on road courses because of this. Stewart has won here before and also has a second place finish. He also has won twice at the Glen. Don't forget, he may have had the best car last week. This could be the week that Stewart steps up and wins a race.
Casey Mears (20/1) Mears is an interesting bet this week. He has been racing well the last few weeks, but it's not good enough alone. But, if you compound that with his racing history, mostly his IRL background, you have a good bet.
Scott Pruett (12/1) Pruett has been successful in all styles of racing. He is considered one of the best road course drivers. He finished third last year. I personally have a hard time betting on someone who does not race these cars a lot, therefore, he looks to do well, but I am a bit skeptical.
Boris Said (12/1) He may be new to NASCAR, but he is a vet to every other racing league. Said start was not like the majority of driver. He got a late start after opening a bike shop, but in 1983 he saw his first race and the rest is history. He has had limited success on American oval track racing, but his success in road racing is very well known. He has performed well at Sonoma and Watkins Glen in Trucks, Busch and NASCAR. He is an odd bet, but not necessarily a bad one.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (40/1) Another week, another entry into the loser category for Junior. He continues to struggle and he is going to a track where his average finish is 19. I don't see a turn around for Junior this week.
Greg Biffle (25/1) Yes Biffle has been one of the dominant drivers this year, but Sonoma is not his cup of tea. He has an average finish of 25 here and Roush has not shown its usual dominance on road tracks.
Kevin Harvick (12/1) Harvick has performed relatively well in road races, but he has too few road races to deserve this line, especially because he has been struggling this season.
Ricky Rudd (20/1) Rudd has had success on road tracks, but that is when he had a good team. His success has diminished over the years and unfortunately he does not deserve this line. 40/1 I would say maybe, 20/1 not a chance.
Rusty Wallace (20/1) Rusty has run well all year, I will give him that, but he seems to be lacking that winning edge. He has also had success here, but most of that came in the 20th century. I apologize for this, because Rusty has my respect, but I think he has lost that special something.