Thursday, February 28, 2008

UAW-Dodge 400 preview

Each week Ridebuyer delves deep into the misunderstood, oft terrifying, world of American saloon-car racing known as NASCAR. This week: Las Vegas.

Fear and loathing on an intermediate track

TV: Fox 3:30pm EST
Location: Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Las Vegas, NV)
Distance: 400 miles/267 laps
2007 Vegas winner: J. Johnson

*What to know:

People who screw up on the Strip find themselves baking in grandstands overlooking a race track in the middle of a barren desert wasteland. You are one of these people. Your eventful Sin City Saturday has ended, and you haven’t the faintest clue as to how you arrived at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. You are rather confidant it is no longer Saturday, yet pinning yourself to a specific date to indicate otherwise is impossible. Here is how things transpired:

Your last cognizant thought took place 30-hours previous. You were outside of O’Sheas Casino (across from the Bellagio) on the Strip. It was you, one of the Baldwin brothers (Billy, you think), and two strippers from the Crazy Horse. You were drinking those cocktails that Puerto Ricans sell on the city side streets (you know the ones… they are sold by the foot). You are also thoroughly twasted on a homemade methamphetamine-barbiturate combo that Baldwin brewed in his suite at the Luxor. This was some potent shit, you recall. More memories begin to saunter back into your conscience as you fade in- and -out whilst perched in the stands overlooking turn one. Lost money, at least five-grand you think, and the frightening realization that the probability of a contracted variety of venereal-related diseases is astronomical (Certainly from the Crazy Horse girls… But, Baldwin? Well, only perhaps).

It is the sun that makes you come to your senses, although you wonder why the oppressive noise didn’t wake you hours earlier. You know you are alone (this you can see), it is loud and unbearably hot. The strippers are nowhere to be found, and at this point you’d be a fool to believe Baldwin is still alive. It hits you like a dump truck: you are at a NASCAR race. Fuck this.

The stands at Sunday’s UAW-Dodge 400 will be packed full of people dealing with the same (or at the very least similar) situations. Fans who find themselves in this quandary should by all means not attempt to fight the situation. No, just relax. Let the booze and drugs work their natural courses and try to enjoy the race.

*Who to watch:

Jimmie Johnson: The defending points champ (2X) has won this race for three consecutive years. The Hendrick team knows what to expect at 1.5 mile tracks. There is no reason to think Johnson can’t make it four in a row.

Kyle Busch: the Toyota cars will show much speed. Busch is a local guy as well. Don’t discount the home field advantage, he is the best bet to debunk Johnson’s streak. He is also the series point’s leader (two top five finishes in both of this season’s races).

Carl Edwards: Coming off of a victory last weekend, Edwards doesn’t need an excuse to finish at the top. He also is pretty sorted at 1.5 mile tracks. Roush has won at Vegas in the past (Kenseth, twice). Don’t put stock in the fact the average finish for Edwards at Vegas is 15.3. It’s called an outlier, fucker.

Matt Kenseth: The last man to win a Cup race at Las Vegas whose name wasn’t Jimmie Johnson? Matt Kenseth. He went back- to- back in 03 and 04. His average finish is 7.6. That is not an outlier, fucker.

For the fans going to the track on purpose:

Here is all your tailgating information. Just to let you know, by tailgating in a parking lot at a NASCAR event, you are perpetuating all sorts of stereotypes. That’s just a heads-up. Also note, you cannot bring booze into the track (in a town where you can drink on the sidewalks and have two midgets blow a donkey for a $100 Monte Carlo chip, do you find it odd that you can’t BYO into a bloody NASCAR race? Me too). Oh, and the answer is yes… you can get married at the track.

Series Points to date:

Kyle Busch
Ryan Newman
Tony Stewart
Kurt Busch
Carl Edwards
Kasey Kahne
Kevin Harvick
Jimmie Johnson
Greg Biffle
Jeff Burton
Brian Vickers
Martin Truex Jr.

Next Race, Hotlanta.

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