The little horses ((also commonly known as Ponies)) trotted (pun intended) up to The Etihad today to take on the big horses ((Manchester City FC, for those you keeping score at THE FIREHOUSE, my favourite emotional cul-de-sac here in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin USA)). Now I might (have) watch(ed) this or I might not (have watched this), depending upon whether or not I hand this laptop over to my wife for a few hours ((our desktop, at the moment is in need to repair…but what do I about it?? I sit down and write about soccer, NASCAR, and My Little Pony instead)) in which case I will watch the first round of practice for the Daytona 500.
Well…as luck would have it, my wife decided to just take a nap. ((Evidently, the little horses in Blue decided this would be a good time for one, as well)). But I did watch some of the first round of practice. And THEN….
I fired up the pirate television set ((that’s the old PHILCO b&w which has been retrofitted with a colour monitor and hooked up to the plumbing in lieu of rabbit ears for those of you interested in my evil machinations instead of Chad Knaus’s evil machinations)) and watched My Little Ponies tussle and romp with the Big Boy Ponies over by Manchester one time there now.
And as I said, it was as if they decided it was nap time. They capered about like ponies in jumpers for a bit, but when Howard Webb blew the whistle, as if to say in the words of T.S. Eliot, “Gentlemen, please, it’s time,” the cuteness factor of the aforementioned ponies in jumpers had long lost its vigour. The scoreline was a fair, if confounding result. And Jose’s metaphor had come full circle. At least for the moment.
I’ve been railing for the past few years now about John Terry’s leadership and how essential it has been, and is, for Chelsea to succeed. With him sidelined for the past 2 games, the results have highlighted his absence. What I’ve been railing about of course is the Chelsea has done almost nothing to find a replacement for his leadership ((and yes, I know, as should everyone of you, that John Terry is absolutely unique and irreplaceable)) and his knowledge of the game. Cahill and Luiz as good as they are, don’t have either at the moment. They don’t have that special spark, yet. They don’t have that pony magic that John Terry brings to the game.
Kurt Zouma, acquired in the January transfer window from AS Saint Etienne, is likely to figure as John Terry’s replacement over the longterm. For a young kid, he’s got tremendous upside in skill and knowledge, and from what I’ve heard, and a personality to match his physique. That’s a term that’s been bandied around lately in the wake Chelsea’s draw to West Brom and their loss at Man City. Personality. The lack thereof. John Terry, like it ((or him)) or not, appears to be the only bronie at Chelsea FC to possess one at the moment. He’s staying at Saint Etienne on loan for the rest of the season. But the sooner Zouma can get here, the better. His middle name is Happy, after all.
Well…so much for ponies in jumpers for the moment. Maybe. Perhaps. ((Are there any NASCAR drivers for which the term ponies in jumpers could be be descriptive?? Discuss amongst yourselves)).
Anyway, Speedweeks has crept up on me like some goddamn stealth fighter-bomber. I’ve been so wrapped up in my football that I’ve been close to neglecting NASCAR entirely ((alright, I exaggerate there, but…))
But your luck has run out, because I’m going to roll out a few takes on the upcoming NASCAR season. I’ll start with the easiest and most obvious conceit in the book….my Predictions For The Upcoming Season That Are Like To Go Horribly Astray ((just like at last night’s Sprint Ultimate won by Denny Hamlin, where Matt Kenseth contrived a little scenario where he, and several other drivers went Horribly Astray)).
I’ve got a few scenarios in mind for that.
First, I could just take the Lazy Way out and just do it myself.
The second thought I has was I could contrive a scenario where NASCAR’s two jail-birds, the always aforementioned Jeremy Mayfield, and Wisconsin’s Very Own, Travis Kvapil ((the handsomest man in NASCAR who’s just plead guilty to charges of beating his wife)) could discuss the upcoming season with all the grace, dignity, style, and culture they can muster…..which I’m here to tell you right now wont be very much. Madness would flow from Mayfield’s mouth like lava from a volcano. And wouldn’t YOU want to hear what Kvapil REALLY thinks about his former teammate David Gillililililland?
The 3rd, and most intriguing scenario would be round up a couple of soccer louts who play in England and have them go at it. I had in mind Danish footballer Nicklas Bendtner who plies his trade for Arsenal ((ArseAnal—-ha ha, get it? ARSE-ANAL!!)) and the always loquacious and dignified Joseph ((Joey)) Barton
I’m going to do what NASCAR did for the Sprint Unlimited last night….give y’all the opportunity to vote on it.
Which scenario intrigues YOU the most?? Let’s recap them so you can make a smart decision:
Basically, I just grab a beer and have AT it.
The handsomest man in NASCAR, Wisconsin’s very own ((unfortunately)) Travis Kvapil joins Jeremy Mayfield’s Madness from some prison located across the railroad tracks from a trailer court, complete with Deputy Sheriffs, with GUNS!!!
3. Nicklas Bendtner joins Joey Barton at a West London coffee shop for a lively discussion.
What the fock do these two bellends know about NASCAR??
Wouldn’t you want to find out??
Now vote early and vote often and all that dross. The results will be revealed shortly.
Last season when I tossed off these predictions like candy from a clown car ((or the Mayor’s Cadillac)) in some local, small-town, Chamber of Commerce sponsored, Flag Day or Festival Parade, it was so much simpler to give an assessment. To make the Chase, the top 10 in points automatically made the Chase. The other 2 spots were wildcards would go to the highest ranked river who finished 11-20 in the point who had a win.
This year NASCAR has tossed a spanner ((wrench)) into the works. The rules for the Chase have changed for 2014. So before we get to the predictions, I’ll have to give a brief overview of what’s new.
The Chase will now have 16 drivers. A win in the first 26 races will guarantee a driver a spot in the chase regardless of where he or she finishes in the points. If there are not 16 drivers with wins, then remaining Chase spots will go the drivers ranking highest in the points w/o wins.
The Chase will then work like a playoff system. After the first three races, the bottom 4 drivers are eliminated from the Chase. After the next races, 4 more divers are eliminated. And after the next three, the last four are eliminated. The points are reset after each elimination round.
If you’ve done your math ((maths)) here, you will note that 4 drivers and one race remains. The 4 remaining drivers will have their points reset so they’re even in points. When the green flag drops at Homestead, they will race for the Sprint Cup Championship. When the checkered flag waves at Homestead, the driver who finishes highest in the race, will be crowned the Sprint Cup Champion.
That’s it in a nutshell. And now you see horribly astray this can get, even with the best intentions.
And speaking of intentions, the VOTES are in!!
The winner is:
- #1 Jamie McMary — This year, he could make the Chase. After all, if this new system had been in place last year he would have made the Chase, despite my correct prediction that he wouldn’t. If he has a win this year, I still think he wont go all the way. I see him maybe dropping off in the 2nd round at best.
- #2 Bad Brad — Hell YES he go all the way. Then again I said that last year and he went on to have a season ((saison)) of crap ((drink some MILLER Lite)). He would have made the Chase last year if the new rules were in place, since he did have a win. Will he make the final 4? Yes he can….IF…
- #3 Austin Dillon — The return of the #3 piloted by Richard Childress’ grandson. More likely to win ROTY than go all the way. But a win at one of the restrictor plate tracks would get him in the Chase, but not much farther if he does. Ride ’em cowboy, and all that dross.
- #4 Kevin Harvick — I could do an entire 2000+ word post about the insane asylum madness ((and don’t place any wagers that I wont)) that is Stewart-Haas Racing this season, and if you steal ((politely ask for)) $5 ((£3.35)) from your mother-in-law and place a bet that Harvick will be one of 4 who will race for the title at Homestead, it will be good value for you, and after returning that fiver, you can still take your mother-in-law out for tea and cakes someplace nice, like Watts Tea Room, for their legendary Sunshine Cake. She will love you for it.
- #5 Kasey Kahne — That Cougar Bait stuff is getting old ((pun intended)) but all the same, I’m quite certain that Kahne will make the Chase. But coming into the final stretch, I’m also quite certain that he will run out. No ((horse)) racetrack or betting parlour that I know of, will take a bet for a 5th place finish, and even if one did, you’d still be better off just spending that money on beer.
- #7 Michael Annett — When I was in highschool, at Appleton Eash, there was an English teacher named Mr. Annett. He was short, wore glasses, had bushy-curly hair and big moustache ((which was about as hippyesque as a high school English teacher could be back in 1968)). There is no way, in any conceivable universe, INCLUDING all the parallel psychedelic ones, that Mr. Annett would ever have been found behind the wheel of any car involved in stock car auto racing. I’ve been following ((in the same vague way that I’ve been following the soon to be mentioned Parker Kligerman)) the career (such as it is)) of Michael Annett down in Nationwide, but whenever I seen his name on the leaderboard, I’ve always thought of and pictured in my mind the English teacher Mr.Annett, even though Michael Annett looks nothing like him. And in answer to your questions…NO, NO, and NO!!!
- #9 Marcus Ambrose — He will make the Chase because he will either win at Watkins Glen or Sonoma. Unfortunately, he will naught go much further since NASCAR does not have a road course in the Chase. That’s a big shame, really, since there should always be a road course in the Chase to test the mettle ((tactical nous)) of a true Champion. There should be 3 road courses in Sprint Cup just as there is in the Nationwide Series. I’d go with Watkins Glen in the spring; Road America in the summer; and Sears Point ((Infinion) in the Chase.
- #10 Danica Patrick — WIN ONE FOR THE KING!! WIN ONE FOR THE KING!! WIN ONE FOR THE KING!! WIN ONE FOR THE KING!! WIN ONE FOR THE KING!! WIN ONE FOR THE KING!! WIN ONE FOR THE KING!! WIN ONE FOR THE KING!! WIN ONE FOR THE KING!! WIN ONE FOR THE KING!! WIN ONE FOR THE KING!! WIN ONE FOR THE KING!! WIN ONE FOR THE KING!! WIN ONE FOR THE KING!! WIN ONE FOR THE KING!! That’s all it will take for Danica to make the Chase. One win anywhere. Most likely at Daytona or Talladega. But who knows. This season, she’s gonna run with blinkers off ((obscure horse-racing reference)). At least that’s the word from the Asylum ((Stewart-Haas Racing)). So as they say…on any given Sunday….((or Saturday night…at Bristol for example)).
- #11 Denny Hamlin — Everyone has accused Matt Kenseth of being a robot ((with all the personality thereof)). But Matt is a virtual King of Comedy compared to Denny Hamlin. If Denny Hamlin wins at Homestead this year like he did last year, he will be crowned Sprint Cup Champion, and deservedly. Of course,. he’ll have to win somewhere in the first 26 races, but I think that’s pretty much a given.
- #13 Casey Mears — Really now?? Really?? But stranger things have happened. He might luck into a win somewhere. But with his luck, it’ll be one the Chase races and while a win is a win, he will still be on the outside looking in.
- #14 Smoke — In answer to all yer questions, “Hell yeh!! “ But will his recently healed leg last the season? In my mind, that’s my only doubt. But my mind is not the on the psychiatrist’s bench here. It’s the mind of Tony Stewart we’re talking about. Mind over matter with his leg might be one thing. But mind over the other three lunatics ((in addition to himself)) on his team, well…that’s a 2000+ word post for another day.
- #15 Clint Bowyer — That cheating scandal he was involved in has cut Clint Bowyer down quite a few pegs on my cribbage board. I used to like him, but now he’s starting out the season double-skunked on my ((moral)) scorecard. Despite protestations to the contrary, he was complicit in the cheating. I hope he doesn’t win a damn race just to teach him a lesson.
- #16 The Biff — Yes, he’ll make the Chase. As for the rest of your impertinent questions about the bug-eyed goof, probably maybe and probably no. That’s about as much info as I got from the Ouija Board I was playing around with the other day ((even though I was only using it to find out who would win the Kentucky Derby next year)). So that’s about all you’ll get from me here about The Biff. Goodbye.
- #17 Danica Patrick’s Boyfriend — After final practice, Ricky Stenhouse Jr admitted to eating most of the candy he bought for Danica for Valentine’s Day. He promised to buy her some more, and some for himself. Words to that effect. Remember….I never let facts get in the way of the truth. That will be his 2014 season.
- #18 Kyle Busch — NASCAR’s Favourite Driver® will make the Chase and very well could win ((and wouldn’t it be cool if HE won at Homestead with the verve and foaming wrath like his older brother did when HE won the Championship despite an entire wheel coming off as he entered pit road)), much to the delight of all his fans in Slovenia, Morocco, Suriname, Angola, Luxembourg, Honduras, Nepal, Scotland, Venezuela, Fiji, Martinique, Cambodia, Azerbaijan, and The Gambia; not to mention the adoration of all the housewives of the United States, Egypt, Colombia, Italy, and the Soviet Union.
- #20 Matt Kenseth — Besides the adoration of the aforementioned housewives, Matt also has the adoration of the housewives of Portugal, Germany, New Zealand, Syria, Japan and Nicaragua. And while his main fanbase is from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, The Faroe Islands, South Eastern Dane County, and Finland….he also counts many fans in Croatia, Estonia, Andorra, Ecuador, Vietnam, Wales, St. Kitts & Nevis, Uganda, Georgia ((not the one where Atlanta is…the other one were Stalin was from)), Maldive Islands, Mount Horeb Wisconsin ((that fan would be me, for the record)), Thailand, Cuba, and the Central African Republic. So from all over the world there will be resounding cheers and guns fired into the air in the streets of Algiers, Cairo, Zacatecas and Podgorica and also deep in the Amazon jungle when he tops is two teammates, plus some other driver you can select at random using Tarot Cards or an 8-Ball, to win the Sprint Cup Championship at Homestead this November.
- #22 Joey Logano — He will smile his way into the Chase. One hand on the wheel, the other stabbing you in the back with a valuable hunting knife. He just might even be that guy who joins the three Gibbsketeers® at Homestead for the race to death and glory. If he does, then get your sorry ass to Eli Cannon’s Tap Room in his hometown of Middletown, Connecticut at once!! And even if he doesn’t, get your sorry ass there anyway!
- #23 Alex Bowman –Who the fuck is Alex Bowman?? I don’t know. You tell me. Allegedly he will be running fulltime, allegedly. But who the fuck, anyway?? It’s almost as if some organization rounded up all the lads in North Dakota, Saskatchewan, and Warroad, Minnesota who don’t play hockey, and whose ever name got pulled out the hat got tapped to drive the #23 Dr. Pepper Toyota for BK Racing. Bloody hell, anyway.
- #24 Noted Wine Connoisseur Jeff Gordon — As time has marched on, I’ve become less strident and harsh about Jeff Gordon. It’s no longer That Homo Jeff Gordon and all that dross. He is no longer the butt ((pun not intended)) of all manner of mean-spirited jokes. No….he now the wine connoisseur Jeff Gordon, and I wouldn’t mind one bit setting down with him and getting tight on a bottle or two. In fact there have been occasions where I’ve found myself actually rooting for him. If Matt Kenseth, or the rest my favourite drivers don’t have a chance of winning the Championship this year, I’m all for Jeff Gordon winning it all. He won’t be driving fulltime for much longer, so I wouldn’t mind at all if he won it all this season, even if it’s at the expense of Matt Kenseth or any of the Gibbsketeers®. Will he pull it off this season? After all, he barely made the Chase last season. The onus this season is going to be on crew chief Alan Gustafson. AG is in a contract year, so it’s honest philosophy for him to pull every spanner ((wrench)) out of his ass to get the #24 set up to run like a hot rod ((raped ape)) every focking week. So the final answers here are YES, and IF.
- #26 Cole Witt — It’s probably not fair to say that Cole Witt is NASCAR equivalent of baseball legends ((pun not intended)) Cot Deal and Coot Veal, but then again, maybe it is. Or…he could be the next Bobby Hamilton.
- #27 Paul Menard — If last season’s points and Chase qualifying system were in place, I’d say YES to him making the Chase. But under the new regime, I’ve not so sure. Just as people die when they are killed, people win when they cross the finish line first. I’m certain he can accomplish the former, but the latter?? If he does win one in the first 26 and makes the Chase, I will buy myself a beer and you can watch me drink it.
- #30 Parker Kligerman — I admire this kid’s honesty. He knows damn well that this season is a go nowhere season as far as awards, accolades, and wins go. This season is all about running every possible lap and bringing the sled home in no more than one piece. What I mean here is that if he goes down 3-nil on 62 minutes ((lap 275 of the Auto Club 400 at Fontana CA next month, for example)) he won’t be chasing the game.
- #31 Ryan Newman — Newman is the perfect replacement for Jeff Burton ((who’s retired to the world of NASCAR punditry)) in the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet. He’s the got the look, and demeanor of someone who just jumped off a Caterpillar powered piece of farm or construction equipment, and I will bet you a beer of your choice that he will make the Chase and make a deep run.
- #34 Dave Ragan — Well…it’s a pity for young David that the new rules weren’t in effect last season. His win at ‘Dega last April would have put him in the Chase. Little good it would have done, though, other than a 16th place finish. He was 25th in the points after Richmond, and 28th in the points after Homestead. Look for more of the same this year, except without the win.
- #36 Reed Sorenson — The Billy Joe Armstrong shit-lookalike returns to the big time, such as it is, in the #36 Golden Corral Chevrolet. ((Now, that’s BIGTIME)) Reed Sorenson is a good guy and all, but he is about as likely to make the Chase as Billy Joe Armstrong is. But then again, he could pull a David Ragan ((see above)), ya never know ((yes you do)).
- #38 David Gillilillilillilillilliland — YABA DAH!! A SPIDER!! A GIANT SPIDER WITH DIAPERS ON!!!!
- #41 Kurt Busch — Kurt moved from Furniture Row to fill the final spot in the insane asylum roster vacated by the aforementioned Ryan Newman. As I said, any one of the seething madmen that Stewart-Haas has collected could start spinning and spinning and never stop until there is blood all over the walls. Kurt could certainly find a win somewhere and make the Chase. But it could also be a case of him not making the Chase, and then winning a race or two. A little Gestalt therapy might be in order. ((A lot might be in order))
- #42 Kyle Larson — The last time most of the world saw Kyle Larson in any memorable way, he and his car were lying upside down on the safety and partly in the stands at the Nationwide race at Talladega. And according to my solid, beer-fueled, line of reasoning, you should hold that memorable moment in your hearts, Kyle Larson fan((s)), as he won’t be seen in any more of a memorable moment this season. Rumour has it that one of the two Target paint schemes the #42 Target Chevrolet will sport this season will be the WE ARE SO VERY VERY SORRY scheme.
- #43 Aric Almirola — Everybody now….let’s all sing, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” en glorious Español. He had a decent season in 2013 and a top 20 finish ((18th)) last season. He will do the same this season.
- #47 The Dinger — I like A.J. Allmendinger. He took his NASCAR suspension for substance abuse like a man. Owned up to it, did the rehab time, and learned a solid lesson. It’s great to see him back on the track with a decent enough fulltime ride. I’m sure there’s a win in him somewhere. But if there is, he probably won’t make it out of the second round.
- #48 Jimmie Johnson — This go-nowhere driver still insists on futilely trying to make a name for himself. How many years has it been now ((12))?? Too many, that’s what.
- #51 Justin Allgaier — I’m sure there is ((are)) a ((some)) NASCAR fan((s)) out there who would love to have the final four in this year’s Chase come down to a duel between Justin Allgaier, Austin Dillon, Parker Kligerman, and Kyle Larson ((besides their mothers, of course)). But this is not the Nationwide Series…this is the focking Bundesliga.
- #55 Brian Vickers — In the wake as last season’s Chase scandal at MWR, Brian Vickers got the nod to pilot the Aaron’s Dream Machine in 2014. Vickers has had a rough go health-wise the past few seasons with bloodclots that have kept him out a ride and in and out of the hospital. Hopefully he’s be well this season. He has a lot potential and is a good driver and I’m confident he’ll win a race or two ((at the right time)) and make the Chase and do fairly well.
- #66 Joe Nemechek — Bloody Hell!! Is this for true?? Front Row Joe back in an actual, real Strint Cup ride that is not a start and park outfit? Bloody hell, anyway. It’s the 3rd Michael Waltrip car, and Michael will be piloting it Daytona to start out. But Joe will get 27-29 races. And that beats driving around for a few laps until a TERRIBLE VIBRATION suddenly sounds the car’s beer lap klaxon and then it’s off to the garage to do some damage to a 30-pak of Lost Lake LIGHT.
- #78 Martin Truex Jr. — The ultimate victim of MWR cheating scandal. He lost his chance to make the Chase on his own merits. He lost the sponsor who’s been with him for several years. And he left MWR for Furniture Row racing. Kurt Busch made the Chase last season driving for Furniture Row. No reason Junior Jr ((obscure DEI reference)) can’t either, except for a win, of course.
- #83 Ryan Truex — Martin’s little brother will be taking over the disgraced and jailed ((actually, he’s out on probabtion)) Travis Kvapil’s old ride. Since I’m too lazy to come up with anything more clever than that, See #51 Parker Kligerman, above, for further details.
- #88 Junior — I will say this right now. Junior will be one of the final 4 left standing going into Homestead. At last, he will be famous and get a real live girlfriend.
- #99 The Carl — Instead of running in this year’s Chase, despite a win or two, The Carl step out of his ride and accept an £80,000 a week contract to play forward for Tottenham Hotspur as a replacement for Jermain Defoe ((now of
The Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceFC Toronto)). The Carl will wear the 99 shirt, which is the largest shirt number in the English Premier League. He will celebrate each goal with his patented backflip. The Spurs fans will sing and chant his name. He will be the new King of White Hart Lane.
And there you have it. NASCAR predictions for 2014.
You will note that I haven’t predicted my final four. I will do know. Bear in mind, just to prove that I am not a fat ugly crybaby, that I will show absolutely no favouritism here. Even though it might break my heart to do so.
When the checkered flag is thrown at Phoenix, and the final 4 is set. The final 4 drivers teeing it off the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead on November 16, 2014 to win it all, will be:
- Kevin Harvick
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Denny Hamlin
- Matt Kenseth
There. I did it without breaking my heart. That’s a relief for sure. And now I’m off for a beer.