Fantasy Chase 2014: A champion is crowned

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Kevin Harvick’s victory at Phoenix International Raceway clinched a berth in NASCAR’s championship race, but it also did something more important for Brad Bogdane: It earned him the 2014 Fantasy Chase championship.

Bogdane, a 32-year-old Saskatchewan resident who goes by @sports2hiphop on Twitter, was the only player left standing after Phoenix. He survived a regular season with 326 players (Bogdane won three times before the Chase) and then made it through the Fantasy Chase by picking a favorite for each race instead of saving all the heavy hitters for the end (he used Jimmie Johnson at Dover, for example).

After winning the title, Bogdane chose to receive a Dale Call as his championship trophy. And while he calls himself an Earnhardt fan, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

“I feel like I have to say Dale Jr. is my favorite just because I know pretty much everything about his life,” said Bogdane, whose father was a diehard Dale Earnhardt Sr. fan. “But I enjoy heated NASCAR discussions and everyone can’t be Earnhardt fans, so I started cheering for the villains.”

Bogdane was sitting in the grandstands at Daytona International Speedway one day when he saw an elderly man get up from his seat and start cursing at Kyle Busch. It blew him away.

“I thought, ‘Damn, this old man who can barely walk hates a man he’s never met that much,” Bogdane said. “(That was) amazing to me. Ever since then, Kyle Busch has been a god to me.”

Busch has been tamer the last few years, Bogdane said, so he’s expanded his rooting interests for perceived bad guys.

“Now there’s a new villain that I like: Brad Keselowski,” he said. “But deep down, I’ll always be an Earnhardt fan.”

Congratulations to Bogdane and thanks to everyone who played in the Fantasy Chase this season. Hopefully, we can play a game together again next season.

Fantasy Chase: The final four

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Joey Logano’s surprising bottom-four finish at Texas Motor Speedway means there are only four people left in the Fantasy Chase — and only one can win the title at Phoenix International Raceway.

Here’s what happened:

— We started Texas with four people picking Brad Keselowski and three picking Logano, including the only remaining player with a clear path to Homestead — @amishkid17.

— But Logano finished fifth of the remaining Chase drivers at Texas, which eliminated @amishkid17, @chrisonethree and @jsoupzzz.

— That left our own version of the final four heading into Phoenix: @sports2hiphop, @devyanks90, @BPierce158 and @dave_phillips1. Of those four, however, only one has an eligible pick at Phoenix.

Twitter ID Phoenix pick
Sports2hiphop Harvick, Kevin
devyanks90 Johnson, Jimmie
BPierce158 Johnson, Jimmie
dave_phillips1 Johnson, Jimmie

Championship Scenario:

— @sports2hiphop wins the Fantasy Chase if Kevin Harvick finishes among the top four drivers at Phoenix.

— If Harvick fails to finish in the top four, everyone is eliminated and there will be a tiebreaker in place. Since all four of the remaining players picked Dale Earnhardt Jr. for Homestead, none of their picks can be used as the tiebreaker. Instead, the final four will be contacted via Twitter to submit a pick for the Homestead race. Whoever is closest would win the championship.

Fantasy Chase: Week 7 results, Week 8 picks

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As it turned out, both Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth were among the top four Chase drivers at Martinsville Speedway, which means everyone with an eligible pick survived until next week.

Unfortunately, most people (12 players) had chosen a driver who was already eliminated from the Chase. This included Adam Huth, our regular season champion, who went out with a bang: He chose Dale Earnhardt Jr., which would have been his 10th victory of the season if it counted. Adam, congrats on a GREAT run! Really impressive.

Those who went home this week:

wdoyle66
fatbuzz66
digertwo
CopaCavanna
gonzalezterence
Adam_Huth
Sam_Beishuizen
TheTigerBones
thndrnghrd24
Mattdobson_7
mattgross
kennethriggs

So we’re down to nine people for the final three races. Props to those who have made it this far — it hasn’t been easy.

Here are the picks for Texas. Seven players are eligible to move on after this week (four people chose Brad Keselowski; three people chose Joey Logano). Please see the tiebreaker procedures below the picks in case the game ends this week.

Twitter ID Texas
dallasjunebug Earnhardt Jr., Dale
trv240sx Johnson, Jimmie
Sports2hiphop Keselowski, Brad
devyanks90 Keselowski, Brad
BPierce Keselowski, Brad
dave_phillips1 Keselowski, Brad
chrisonethree Logano, Joey
Amishkid17 Logano, Joey
jsoupzzz Logano, Joey

TIEBREAKERS:

1) If both Keselowski and Logano finish among the bottom four Chase drivers at Texas, the Fantasy Chase game is over and will be decided on a tiebreaker. The winner will be the driver who finishes higher at Texas.

Since multiple people have the same driver, the winner would then depend on who has the most drivers still alive for their Phoenix and Homestead picks.

2) If both Keselowski and Logano are eliminated and Keselowski is higher, the Fantasy Chase winner would be @sports2hiphop. The reason is he is the only one of the four people who chose Keselowski and has a driver still eligible after Texas (he picked Harvick at Phoenix).

3) If both Keselowski and Logano are eliminated and Logano is higher, the Fantasy Chase winner would be @amishkid17. The reason is he has two drivers still eligible after Texas (Harvick at Phoenix, Keselowski at Homestead).

LOOKING AHEAD:

Only three players can still win the Fantasy Chase even if they survive this week (see championship scenarios below):

Twitter ID Phoenix Homestead
Sports2hiphop Harvick, Kevin Earnhardt Jr., Dale
devyanks90 Johnson, Jimmie Earnhardt Jr., Dale
BPierce Johnson, Jimmie Earnhardt Jr., Dale
dave_phillips1 Johnson, Jimmie Earnhardt Jr., Dale
chrisonethree Harvick, Kevin Johnson, Jimmie
Amishkid17 Harvick, Kevin Keselowski, Brad
jsoupzzz Busch, Kyle Kahne, Kasey

Note: If the three Harvick players survive Phoenix, it depends on whether Keselowski makes the final four. If he does, then @Amishkid17 wins. If not, then there could be a three-way tie and the tiebreaker would be whoever’s Homestead pick finishes highest between @Amishkid17 (Keselowski), @Sports2hiphop (Earnhardt) and @chrisonethree (Johnson).

No one else but those three can win the title because everyone else’s Phoenix picks are already eliminated.

Fantasy Chase picks: Week 7

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Before you read anything else on this page, know this: There’s a chance the Fantasy Chase could end this week.

Say what?! Yep, it’s true. The chances of our game still being undecided at Homestead are now quite small. In fact, it’s likely the game will be over in the next couple weeks.

First of all, look at how the Fantasy Chase field has shrunk:

Pre-race Players left
Chicago 197
New Hampshire 183
Dover 113
Kansas 107
Charlotte 71
Talladega 50
Martinsville 21

So you’re saying, “OK, still 21 players. That’s not so bad.”

Actually, it IS that bad when you consider the picks for this week:

Twitter ID Martinsville
wdoyle66 Busch, Kurt
fatbuzz66 Busch, Kurt
digertwo Busch, Kyle
CopaCavanna Earnhardt Jr., Dale
gonzalezterence Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Adam_Huth Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Sam_Beishuizen Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Sports2hiphop Gordon, Jeff
devyanks90 Gordon, Jeff
BPierce Gordon, Jeff
dave_phillips1 Gordon, Jeff
dallasjunebug Gordon, Jeff
chrisonethree Gordon, Jeff
trv240sx Gordon, Jeff
Amishkid17 Gordon, Jeff
TheTigerBones Johnson, Jimmie
thndrnghrd24 Johnson, Jimmie
Mattdobson_7 Johnson, Jimmie
mattgross Johnson, Jimmie
kennethriggs Johnson, Jimmie
jsoupzzz Kenseth, Matt

Did you see that? Look at all the italics! All of those picks in italics are worthless for Martinsville because those drivers are no longer in the Chase. So in reality, there are only nine people who can advance past this week:

Sports2hiphop Gordon, Jeff
devyanks90 Gordon, Jeff
BPierce Gordon, Jeff
dave_phillips1 Gordon, Jeff
dallasjunebug Gordon, Jeff
chrisonethree Gordon, Jeff
trv240sx Gordon, Jeff
Amishkid17 Gordon, Jeff
jsoupzzz Kenseth, Matt

So there you have it: The ONLY picks this week are Jeff Gordon (eight people) and Matt Kenseth (one). If they both finish in the top four of the remaining Chase drivers, they move on to Texas. But if both Gordon and Kenseth finish in the bottom half of the Chasers this week, the game is over.

In that case, it would be decided on a tiebreaker. Here are the tiebreaker rules I just made up for Martinsville:

Tiebreaker 1) If both drivers are eliminated, those who picked the driver who finished higher at Martinsville will win the championship.

— If both Kenseth and Gordon are eliminated but Kenseth finishes higher, @jsoupzzz wins the championship.

— If both Kenseth and Gordon are eliminated but Gordon finishes higher, there’s an eight-way tie for the championship and we go to Tiebreaker No. 2.

Tiebreaker 2) In the event of an eight-way tie, the tiebreaker will be the person who still has the most eligible Chase drivers for the remaining three races after Martinsville.

There is only ONE person out of all remaining players who has four eligible drivers in the remaining four races. So @amishkid17 would win the championship this week if both Kenseth and Gordon go out and Gordon finishes higher.

Details (eligible driver in bold):

Sports2hiphop Gordon, Jeff Keselowski, Brad Harvick, Kevin Earnhardt Jr., Dale
devyanks90 Gordon, Jeff Keselowski, Brad Johnson, Jimmie Earnhardt Jr., Dale
BPierce Gordon, Jeff Keselowski, Brad Johnson, Jimmie Earnhardt Jr., Dale
dave_phillips1 Gordon, Jeff Keselowski, Brad Johnson, Jimmie Earnhardt Jr., Dale
dallasjunebug Gordon, Jeff Earnhardt Jr., Dale Harvick, Kevin Johnson, Jimmie
chrisonethree Gordon, Jeff Logano, Joey Harvick, Kevin Johnson, Jimmie
trv240sx Gordon, Jeff Johnson, Jimmie Harvick, Kevin Keselowski, Brad
Amishkid17 Gordon, Jeff Logano, Joey Harvick, Kevin Keselowski, Brad

Let me know if there are any questions, since this might be confusing. By the way, in the event the game continues to next week, here are @jsoupzzz’s picks for the rest of the season:

Kenseth, Matt Logano, Joey Busch, Kyle Kahne, Kasey

Fantasy Chase: Week 6 results

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Wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Can you believe it? The bottom four Chase drivers at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday were Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon.

None of the remaining 50 players in the Fantasy Chase picked Johnson, so no harm done there. Only one picked Gordon and two picked Busch, so no biggie there, either.

But…um…a LOT of people picked Dale Jr. It’s ugly, folks. There’s no way around it.

Nearly half of the Fantasy Chasers — 23 people — picked Junior, and now they’re all going home. It’s kinda like this:


OUCH.

Hey, look — you made it this far. Great run. But it’s time to say goodbye to the following 29 players (including three who picked drivers no longer in the Chase):

Twitter ID   Talladega pick
ItsAlexKaplan Almirola, Aric
CFDIG Biffle, Greg
ClintLJones Busch, Kurt
Huth88 Busch, Kyle
katiecole125 Busch, Kyle
Kfisher88 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
lorettamagers Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Coates_Burghfan Earnhardt Jr., Dale
ZHorrall224 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
AppBuckeye31 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
bruce_compton15 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
tcholbrook Earnhardt Jr., Dale
davidlerner75 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
oldguyjk Earnhardt Jr., Dale
gregatkins Earnhardt Jr., Dale
coreyr12 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Gael78II Earnhardt Jr., Dale
rebel388 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Chubdubblub Earnhardt Jr., Dale
quickdraw222 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Bradley_016 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
poloshot Earnhardt Jr., Dale
turbojunker Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Toenailurface Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Readymixchick Earnhardt Jr., Dale
bakemoney2000 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
jdubharris Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Nascar_Nut Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Scottwilfong Gordon, Jeff

Now we’re down to the final 21 people with four races to go. I’ll post picks later this week, but congrats to those people still alive in the Fantasy Chase:

Twitter ID
wdoyle66
fatbuzz66
digertwo
gonzalezterence
Adam_Huth
CopaCavanna
Sam_Beishuizen
Sports2hiphop
devyanks90
BPierce
dallasjunebug
trv240sx
Amishkid17
chrisonethree
dave_phillips1
TheTigerBones
thndrnghrd24
mattgross
kennethriggs
Mattdobson_7
jsoupzzz

October 17, 1989: The Earthquake

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1989_10_October_17th

I can still vividly remember the moment it happened. The rest of my memories from that day are just fragments, little bursts of images strung together.

At 5:04 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 1989, I was sitting into the second-to-last row of the upper deck at Candlestick Park with my mom. We were getting ready to watch the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s – my preferred team as a 9-year-old – play in Game 3 of the World Series.

If I close my eyes, I can remember it so clearly: The terror I felt while gripping the armrest of my seat as we were jolted back and forth, the sound like a train roaring down the tracks. When it stopped, we were uninjured; but as it turned out, that moment changed the course of my life.

This might sound weird, but I’m a sports writer because of an earthquake.

(Above: A picture taken from the upper deck walkway on the way up to our seats. Note the clock says 4:50 p.m.; the earthquake hit 14 minutes later.)

—————

I grew up in Los Altos, Calif. – about 40 miles south of San Francisco – and would go to both Giants and A’s games with my dad. But I preferred the A’s, because they had the “Bash Brothers” (Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco), a nickname which was appealing to a kid.

My dad somehow scored World Series tickets from his boss, but he had to fly to Japan on business. That left my mom – who had never been to a game at Candlestick – to take me to the World Series.

We got to the game pretty early, and I remember the excitement of pulling into the stadium parking lot. The Giants’ theme song that year was “I Feel Good,” and it played on the car radio; because of what happened later, it still triggers a brief second of nervousness for me today.

My mom and I got to our nosebleed seats, and settled in for the game. How could we have known we’d never see a single pitch? I pulled out my pencil and program to keep score, but the tip was broken; I pleaded with my mom to let me go buy a new one by myself, but she said no — we could go together later. I’m glad she refused, because we would have been separated at a bad time.

That’s when it happened.

My mom doesn’t remember this, but right before it hit, I looked up to the right — in the direction of the Bay — and saw a flock of birds suddenly flying over the stadium, shrieking. Then the rumbling started – like rolling thunder at first, then like a jumbo jet taking off. Our seats began shifting from side to side – hard.

Earthquake.

I couldn’t tell you how long it lasted – it seemed like forever. I just remember wanting it to stop. It was a rough one — being up high in the upper deck probably didn’t help — and it really tossed me around in my seat.

In writing this post, I asked my mom what she remembers from that moment. At first, she thought everyone in the stadium started stomping their feet.

“I put my arm around you,” she said. “I looked over your shoulder and where the stadium (roof) met, there were two walls that came together at a 45 degree angle — and they were moving in complete opposite directions back and forth.”

Then it slowed down — CHUG, CHUG, chug, chug, chug — and stopped. Strangely, everyone burst into cheers. My mom remembers jubilant people raising their fists up to the sky in triumph. It was like: Heck yeah! Now let’s get this game started!

We didn’t share their enthusiasm for the game. My mom wanted to get downstairs as quickly as possible — was the stadium going to collapse? — so we excused ourselves past the people remaining in their seats and headed for an escalator.

The power was out, but hundreds of people were still streaming up to their seats — we had to squeeze past everyone to reach ground level. The game wasn’t canceled yet; maybe we thought the quake was worse than it was?

My mom spotted a couple guys with boom boxes listening to the radio, and we gathered around to hear the news reports. After realizing the earthquake was pretty serious, my mom decided we should leave.

We walked out of the stadium gates and ran into two guys who asked my mom if we were going to use our ticket stubs as a rain check to come back. At the time, my mom either didn’t realize the significance of the stubs or just figured there was no way we’d return even if it were somehow rescheduled. Anyway, she gave our tickets away.

Someone else in the parking lot asked us if we’d heard the news: The Bay Bridge had just collapsed. What?! We were stunned. We hurried to the car and flipped on the car radio, which blared the Emergency Broadcast System signal – only this was not a test. My mom realized we needed to get back to my sister, who was at home with an elderly babysitter.

We didn’t have to cross the bridge to reach Los Altos, but my mom didn’t know how to get back to the highway from where we parked – and she took a wrong turn. I remember us driving through a neighborhood and looking at the glass on a bus shelter as it trembled with an aftershock.

By the time she figured out where we were, officials had called the game and we got stuck in all the traffic leaving the city. At that point, we had no communication with anyone – my sister, my dad, our other relatives and friends. Remember, this was in an era of no cell phones (yes, there was such a time).

Fortunately, we were in my dad’s car and he had a first-generation car phone, mounted in the center console with a handset. All the circuits were jammed, though, so we couldn’t call anyone.

1989_10_October_17th

(Above: I showed up at Candlestick Park that day to see my favorite two teams play each other. I had no idea what was about to happen.)

Peeing in the car

When the earthquake hit, my dad was in Nagano, Japan showing customers around at a Fujitsu plant. It was mid-morning there, and he got an urgent call from a co-worker.

“He said, ‘Turn on the TV, the Bay Bridge is down, the Marina District is on fire,” my dad said. “I knew you and Mom were OK because they said nobody was hurt at Candlestick. But I said, ‘Los Altos must be leveled.’ I thought Laura (my sister) was gone. I was panicked.”

He called our neighbors but couldn’t get an answer for awhile. Finally, someone picked up. They told my dad everyone in our neighborhood was fine – and that my sister was sitting in the elderly babysitter’s car in the driveway, since that’s what the woman remembered her mother doing during an earthquake in the 1930s.

My dad figured we might be in the car on the way home, so he called the car phone. It went through, much to his relief.

Mine, too. I had to pee so badly at that point, and we were stuck in standstill traffic with no end in sight. I asked my dad if it would be OK if I just peed in his car.

He said yes. What a dad! So I pissed in my pants, right there on the front seat.

When we finally pulled into our neighborhood, it was dark — no one had power — but I remember seeing people barbecuing in their front yards.

Fortunately, our house had very little damage. Everything came out of the cabinets, of course, but structurally it was OK. We got lucky compared to some of our friends; one of my classmates broke his arm when a wall fell on him as he was trying to run out of his house.

That night – and for most of that week – my sister and I slept on mattresses in our front hallway, right next to the door. I refused to go upstairs to my room or even to take a shower because I didn’t trust the ground and an aftershock could happen at any second. What if that was the one that made our house fall down?

(Above: I slept in the hallway for several days because I was too scared to go upstairs in case of an aftershock.)

The fallout

That week was the first time my mom let me watch the news. And for months afterward, I was obsessed. Not only did I watch the TV news, but I listened to the all-news radio station (KCBS in San Francisco) in my room. All the time.

My dad said when we took a trip to see friends in Minneapolis a few months later, they picked us up from the airport and asked what kind of music we wanted to hear.

I asked them, “Do you have an all-news radio station here?”

That’s one part of the reason I’m in journalism today. Here’s the other: The earthquake triggered a chain of events which led me to NASCAR. This is sort of confusing, but bear with me:

1) My mom, spooked by the earthquake, told my dad that we should move to another state. She decided she couldn’t wait around for the Big One to hit. After all, the ’89 quake wasn’t the Big One – it was only a 7.1. Another one, 8.0 or larger, was predicted with a 90% chance in the next 25 years (how’d that work out?). Anyway, my dad eventually relented and we moved to Colorado.

2) Since I had only lived in Colorado for a relatively short time, I wasn’t tied down to the state for college. So I picked a school on the East Coast instead – the University of Delaware — since I figured I’d already lived in the West and (sort of) the Midwest.

3) At Delaware, a professor named Bill Fleischman encouraged me to try sports writing. I’d never thought of it before taking his class. If I hadn’t met him, I have no idea what I’d be doing today.

4) I got my first sports writing job at a small newspaper in Rocky Mount, N.C. – and my editor sent me to cover NASCAR (I’d never seen a race before that).

So to recap: If the earthquake had never happened, we would have never moved from California, I would have never gone to school and met my professor or become a sports writer and I might be a salesman or lawyer or Starbucks barista in the Bay Area instead of a NASCAR reporter living in North Carolina.

Got it?

Anyway, that’s how the Loma Prieta Earthquake changed my life, 25 years ago this week.

1989_10_October_17th_10-17-89__World_Series_Game_#3_provides_a_lifetime_ofmemories!_The_aftermath_at_home_1_(1)

(Above: My dad’s home office looked like a bomb went off after the earthquake. Below: Earthquake prep materials spooked our family into moving from California.)

1989 10 October 18th  What life was like after 10-17-89 (2)

1989 10 October 18th  What life was like after 10-17-89 (1)

Fantasy Chase picks: Week 6

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We’re down to 50 players, and the odds of someone making it to Homestead could get very slim after Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Think about this: If Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski ALL get eliminated from the real Chase this week, the majority of players are totally screwed for the rest of the Fantasy Chase.

Is there ANYONE among the final 50 who didn’t pick one of those three drivers in any of the last four races? Actually, yes. They are:

Coates_Burghfan
ZHorrall224
rebel388
davidlerner75
AppBuckeye31
jsoupzzz

So there is a possible path to Homestead, even without the three big names. But most will be gone by then; even Adam Huth (who won AGAIN last week, by the way) has a lineup of Earnhardt/Johnson/Keselowski/Gordon for his final four picks.

Yes, this game might be over long before Homestead. That’s OK. It was supposed to be hard, and it was. The best hope for most remaining players is to have Johnson or Keselowski somehow win Talladega, because otherwise they’ll ruin many brackets in the next round.

Halfway through the Chase, here’s a look at how quickly the field is shrinking:

Pre-race Players left
Chicago 197
New Hampshire 183
Dover 113
Kansas 107
Charlotte 71
Talladega 50

Nine of the current Chase drivers were chosen at Talladega — everyone except Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson (no one wanted to waste their one Johnson pick on ‘Dega).

Here are the picks for this week (italics indicates a driver who has already been eliminated):

Twitter ID Talladega
ItsAlexKaplan Almirola, Aric
CFDIG Biffle, Greg
ClintLJones Busch, Kurt
Huth88 Busch, Kyle
katiecole125 Busch, Kyle
Kfisher88 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
lorettamagers Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Coates_Burghfan Earnhardt Jr., Dale
ZHorrall224 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
AppBuckeye31 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
bruce_compton15 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
tcholbrook Earnhardt Jr., Dale
davidlerner75 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
oldguyjk Earnhardt Jr., Dale
gregatkins Earnhardt Jr., Dale
coreyr12 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Gael78II Earnhardt Jr., Dale
rebel388 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Chubdubblub Earnhardt Jr., Dale
quickdraw222 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Bradley_016 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
poloshot Earnhardt Jr., Dale
turbojunker Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Toenailurface Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Readymixchick Earnhardt Jr., Dale
bakemoney2000 Earnhardt Jr., Dale
jdubharris Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Nascar_Nut Earnhardt Jr., Dale
Scottwilfong Gordon, Jeff
TheTigerBones Hamlin, Denny
thndrnghrd24 Hamlin, Denny
Sports2hiphop Hamlin, Denny
devyanks90 Hamlin, Denny
wdoyle66 Hamlin, Denny
gonzalezterence Hamlin, Denny
Adam_Huth Hamlin, Denny
mattgross Hamlin, Denny
jsoupzzz Hamlin, Denny
fatbuzz66 Hamlin, Denny
BPierce Harvick, Kevin
kennethriggs Kahne, Kasey
Mattdobson_7 Kenseth, Matt
CopaCavanna Kenseth, Matt
digertwo Kenseth, Matt
dallasjunebug Kenseth, Matt
trv240sx Kenseth, Matt
Amishkid17 Kenseth, Matt
Sam_Beishuizen Keselowski, Brad
chrisonethree Keselowski, Brad
dave_phillips1 Logano, Joey

Fantasy Chase: Week 5 results

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Have you ever been so mad at someone that you wanted to fight them in a dark alleyway between two haulers? Well, you might be after you see the results from Charlotte Motor Speedway.

If you chose Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson or Matt Kenseth, your Fantasy Chase is now over. Thanks for playing; please pick up a gift bag on your way out.

Of the 71 players still in the Fantasy Chase entering Charlotte, 21 were eliminated. Unfortunately, they won’t be part of the final 50 competitors who advance to the final half of the playoffs.

Still, it was a good run for the following people who picked:

Earnhardt (3)

brian_wiggins
AshBollinger
icemankeller

Johnson (6)

ncraiderfan17
cgros127
lancesells
cpeuterb
basspro24chevy
dickiep1018

Kenseth (4)

chris_siebold22
Revvin4Seven48
csvelin
HD388

Keselowski (4)

stephenflorentz
Ed_326
fnmetal
mauhernz

Kurt Busch (4 … ineligible pick)

KeviRHatfield
Springwolf
Dfblanchard
HitYourMarks

 

The problem with being there

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IMG_0211

Shortly after Saturday night’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, I posted this tweet with a picture of Brad Keselowski’s damaged car:

If you watched the race, you know that information is completely wrong. Not even close! Keselowski didn’t get the damage in the garage; it happened on pit road when Tony Stewart backed straight into him.

And trust me, I got dozens of replies telling me what really happened. They’re still trickling in today.

In that sense, you probably already know what I’m about to tell you: Reporters in the garage often have absolutely no idea what happened after the race.

Someday, I’d like to wear a GoPro or something similar so you could see what the garage is like after the race. Being right in the middle of the action can be very cool — beat-up cars are roaring in, emotions are high, there’s a lot of adrenaline — but it also leaves you hilariously uninformed in the times when drama happens.

I’m sharing my ignorance with you so we can laugh together. Here’s how things went down after the race from my view (the actual version can be found here):

— With about 10 laps to go, many reporters get their equipment together and leave the media center for the garage or pit road (it depends on your assignment). In this case, colleague Mike Hembree headed for pit road — where NASCAR requires second through fifth place to stop — and I headed for the garage.

— When you leave the media center, it disconnects you from the TV broadcast. As much as people criticize TV, they have the most information because they have cameras and replays and reporters all working in sync. You rely on TV way more than you realize. I still had my scanner, FanVision and phone, so I was aware a caution came out for Brian Vickers. That set up a final restart. I listened to the finish of the race on PRN and watched it on Charlotte’s mega screen on the backstretch.

— My first priority was to interview Dale Earnhardt Jr. He had practically guaranteed victory, then had a broken shifter and ended up with a miserable night. Clearly, his last hope would be Talladega Superspeedway; we needed his reaction to all of that. I stationed myself by Earnhardt’s hauler because drivers are supposed to drive their cars back to the team transporters and park them in front of the lift gate. A ton of other reporters had the same idea.

— Earnhardt pulled up and got out of his car. The media surrounded him and waited for ESPN to conduct its interview (live TV gets priority). Jimmie Johnson also pulled up — which surprised me because I thought he was in the top five — and left without talking to anyone.

— Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye on Charlotte’s mega screen, I saw images of a skirmish happening. It was Keselowski and…Denny Hamlin? Huh? Why? I could see they were at the other end of the garage, so I ditched Earnhardt’s interview and sprinted down to where the action appeared to be taking place.

— By the time I arrived, it looked like Keselowski had just walked away. But the next thing I knew, people with yellow uniforms started yelling and running toward the middle of the haulers. Wait, were Hamlin and Keselowski fighting in there? I ran after them. By the time I turned on my cell phone camera, this was the scene:

— Someone said Kenseth and Keselowski got into it. Kenseth? Why, because of the restart with 63 laps to go? I had no idea. I walked around to the back of the hauler. Someone said Keselowski and Hamlin bashed into each other in the garage. The front of Keselowski’s car was smashed, so I incorrectly assumed it was from Hamlin (hence the tweet).

At that point, I had no clue about anything that happened after the checkered flag or on pit road. I knew people were mad — I didn’t know why. And I didn’t know Tony Stewart was involved at all (which is why you didn’t see any interviews with Stewart).

So what do you do in that situation? Wander around and talk to people. Paul Wolfe said he didn’t know what happened (and I didn’t realize he was in the fight until after the interview). Joe Gibbs said he didn’t see it. Finally, Denny Hamlin came out of his hauler and ripped Keselowski. And I heard Kenseth interviewed on PRN.

I scrolled through Twitter and saw bits and pieces of what happened. A couple people posted Vines off TV. Thankfully, my girlfriend texted me a video of the TV broadcast — and that was the first time I saw the whole sequence.

Here’s the funny thing: I was far from the only person in the dark. I showed the video to about a dozen reporters in the garage when we were waiting outside the NASCAR hauler, and most of them hadn’t seen a single clip of what happened — this was probably 30 minutes after the race!

Finally, once we sorted it all out, I had a better understanding of what happened and returned to the media center to file my story.

So there’s the truth: You would think reporters at the racetrack know more than fans sitting at home, but that’s often not the case when there’s post-race drama. Once we step away from the TV, you probably have more information than we do.

TV broadcasters don’t get everything and sometimes get criticized, but they do a better job than you think. Without TV, sorting out the information while in the middle of the chaos can be pretty damn confusing.

Photo below: People in the garage gather around a portable ESPN monitor to watch the replay of the fight and pit road bumper cars.

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Fantasy Chase picks: Week 5

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Things are happening REALLY FAST through four weeks of our Fantasy Chase game, as we’re already down to 71 players after starting with 197.

How fast?

You’re absolutely right, Ron Burgundy. In fact, let’s how look at how quickly the field has been whittled:

Pre-race Players left
Chicago 197
New Hampshire 183
Dover 113
Kansas 107
Charlotte 71

How about Charlotte? Is there more craziness ahead?

For starters, at least one person picked 11 of the 12 remaining Chase drivers (everyone except for Ryan Newman) for Saturday night’s race, which ensures more people will be eliminated.

But how many? The popular pick to stay out of the bottom four this week is Kasey Kahne, which makes sense. The best pick, though, might be Kevin Harvick.

Why? Because Adam Huth picked Harvick. You might remember Huth as the dude who won seven regular season races. Well, make it eight victories on the year — he picked Joey Logano at Kansas last week.

It’s too bad for Huth, though, that his wins mean nothing in terms of winning the championship. That’s what a points reset will do for ya.

Anyway, here are all your picks for Charlotte (note: picks in Italics means driver already eliminated):

Twitter ID Charlotte
KeviRHatfield Busch, Kurt
Springwolf Busch, Kurt
Dfblanchard Busch, Kurt
HitYourMarks Busch, Kurt
davidlerner75 Busch, Kyle
Nascar_Nut Busch, Kyle
BPierce Busch, Kyle
dave_phillips1 Busch, Kyle
poloshot Busch, Kyle
Sam_Beishuizen Busch, Kyle
Sports2hiphop Busch, Kyle
chrisonethree Busch, Kyle
brian_wiggins Earnhardt Jr., Dale
AshBollinger Earnhardt Jr., Dale
icemankeller Earnhardt Jr., Dale
wdoyle66 Edwards, Carl
Bradley_016 Edwards, Carl
kennethriggs Edwards, Carl
oldguyjk Edwards, Carl
Toenailurface Edwards, Carl
lorettamagers Gordon, Jeff
fatbuzz66 Gordon, Jeff
Mattdobson_7 Gordon, Jeff
Huth88 Hamlin, Denny
Readymixchick Hamlin, Denny
quickdraw222 Hamlin, Denny
jdubharris Hamlin, Denny
gregatkins Hamlin, Denny
Kfisher88 Harvick, Kevin
devyanks90 Harvick, Kevin
CopaCavanna Harvick, Kevin
jsoupzzz Harvick, Kevin
Scottwilfong Harvick, Kevin
ZHorrall224 Harvick, Kevin
Adam_Huth Harvick, Kevin
ncraiderfan17 Johnson, Jimmie
cgros127 Johnson, Jimmie
lancesells Johnson, Jimmie
cpeuterb Johnson, Jimmie
basspro24chevy Johnson, Jimmie
dickiep1018 Johnson, Jimmie
Chubdubblub Kahne, Kasey
turbojunker Kahne, Kasey
bruce_compton15 Kahne, Kasey
gonzalezterence Kahne, Kasey
ItsAlexKaplan Kahne, Kasey
Amishkid17 Kahne, Kasey
thndrnghrd24 Kahne, Kasey
digertwo Kahne, Kasey
bakemoney2000 Kahne, Kasey
CFDIG Kahne, Kasey
TheTigerBones Kahne, Kasey
Coates_Burghfan Kahne, Kasey
AppBuckeye31 Kahne, Kasey
rebel388 Kahne, Kasey
mattgross Kahne, Kasey
tcholbrook Kahne, Kasey
coreyr12 Kahne, Kasey
dallasjunebug Kahne, Kasey
chris_siebold22 Kenseth, Matt
Revvin4Seven48 Kenseth, Matt
csvelin Kenseth, Matt
HD388 Kenseth, Matt
stephenflorentz Keselowski, Brad
Ed_326 Keselowski, Brad
fnmetal Keselowski, Brad
mauhernz Keselowski, Brad
ClintLJones Logano, Joey
trv240sx Logano, Joey
katiecole125 Logano, Joey
Gael78II Logano, Joey