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Walks for Phillies during 4-1 win over Brewers on Saturday

After a devastating 53-20 loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field, the Eagles are staring at the reality that they’re not an elite team. They have lost their last three games to teams currently with winning records.

With the death of Roddy Piper, we present a Top 10 list — all right, it’s a Top 15 — of the best and most memorable editions of Piper’s Pit. Feel free to add your own favorites to the list.

The Jerry Sandusky tragedy never should have been about football. It should always have been about the victims of a sexual predator and finding the truth about the Penn State administration’s handling of the situation. The NCAA made the Sandusky scandal about football. Not Penn State.

Archive for the ‘NASCAR’ Category

Points at a premium as second half begins

Posted by Eric Fisher On June - 2 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

At the midpoint of NASCAR’s regular season, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick have dominated the action. Harvick has won five of the 13 races. Busch has won four, giving him a 67-point lead over Joey Logano. Harvick, with two “did not finishes,” is in third place.

The consequence of having two drivers winning nine of the first 13 races is that it’s likely that points will play an important role in determining the 16-driver playoff field.

Only six drivers, including Harvick and Busch, have wins this season. Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Logano and Austin Dillon have reached Victory Lane, virtually guaranteeing them spots in NASCAR’s playoff. That leaves 10 playoff spots to be achieved either by victory or through overall points. The likelihood of Busch and Harvick not winning any more races is slim, so the points part of the equation will be particularly important.

The next opportunity to earn a victory or pick up points is Sunday’s Pocono 400 (2 p.m.). Obviously, a victory would be ideal, but moving away from the points cut line, to borrow a golf term, is also important.

With Dillon in 19th place, outside of the top 16, the cutoff spot for points is 15th place. If the season ended today, the playoff field would include the six drivers with wins – five of whom are in the top 16 – and the 10 winless drivers with the most points.

It seems too early to watch the standings, but this year it may be appropriate. Entering Sunday’s Pocono 400, Chase Elliott and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are tied for the final playoff berth. They are only three points behind Alex Bowman, who replaced Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 car. More importantly, they are 33 points ahead of the next closest driver, which is Paul Menard.

Drivers such as Menard (17th place) must begin to close that gap with Bowman, Elliott and Stenhouse Jr. or else they won’t have any option for making the playoffs other than to win a race.

Closing the gap is even more imperative for Daniel Suarez, Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman. Suarez is 18 points behind Menard, which leaves him 51 points behind Elliott and Stenhouse. McMurray and Newman, both of whom qualified for the playoffs last year, are 65 and 66 points, respectively, behind Elliott and Stenhouse. If they don’t start closing that gap, they could find themselves desperate for a victory in the final races before the playoffs begin.

Kasey Kahne is another driver from last year’s playoffs who is in danger of missing the postseason this year. He trails Elliott and Stenhouse by 110 points.

An important thing to remember is that if one of the drivers outside the top 15 wins a race, the “cut line” will move up. For example, if Newman picks up a win, the last driver in on points will be Bowman, leaving both Elliott and Stenhouse (based on current points) on the outside looking in.

On the other side of the cutline, Jimmie Johnson is in 12th place, only 31 points above the current playoff cut line. Johnson could resolve this issue with a victory. If he doesn’t win a race, however, he certainly doesn’t want to get close to the wire with a narrow cushion in the standings. An ill-timed crash or engine trouble could knock the 7-time NASCAR champion out of the playoffs if he doesn’t establish a cushion above the cut line.

Meanwhile, the top 11, which includes winless drivers Brad Keselowski (4th place), Kurt Busch (6th), Denny Hamlin (7th), Kyle Larson (9th), Aric Almirola (10th) and Ryan Blaney (11th), appear fairly safe. But a victory Sunday at Pocono would make them feel much more comfortable as NASCAR kicks off the second half its season.

Is Dover a 2-man race?

Posted by Eric Fisher On May - 6 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

Kyle Bush and Kevin Harvick have been the two dominant drivers during the first 10 races of the NASCAR season, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they qualified at the front of the field for Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism (2 p.m.) at Dover International Speedway.

Harvick, in third place in the overall standings, will start in the front row, alongside pole winner Kyle Larson. Busch, who is 30 points ahead of second-place Joey Logano in the overall standings and 81 points ahead of Harvick, will start in the second row.

Busch and Harvick each have three wins this season. Both have finished in the Top 5 seven times. The big difference in the standings is that Harvick didn’t finish one race.

Busch, the 2015 overall champion, nearly swept the month of April. He won at Texas, Bristol and Richmond before Joey Logano ended the streak with a victory at Talladega. Busch finished 13th at Talladega, one of only two races this year in which he was outside the Top 10. Busch was the runner-up at Martinsville the week before his streak began.

Like Busch, Harvick won three races in a row. Following the Daytona 500, Harvick, the 2014 overall champion, won three straight races. He hasn’t won since March 11, but he hasn’t disappeared from the front of the pack, either. He was the runner-up to Busch at Texas and has only finished outside the Top 5 once (finishing seventh) during the past five races.

Although Busch and Harvick have dominated the first 10 races, there are several other challengers with legitimate opportunities for victory. Larson has been runner-up twice this season, earned the pole position.

Another contender is Logano. He broke a nearly year-long victory drought last weekend at the GEICO 500 at Talladega. Even though that was his first win this season, Logano has been consistent, with nine Top 10 finishes in 10 races.

The Hendrick Motorsports duo of Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott also shouldn’t be discounted. Johnson, a seven-time NASCAR champion, loves the Monster Mile. He’s won at Dover 11 times, including this race last spring. Unfortunately for Johnson, who hasn’t won since last year’s spring Dover race, which was held in early June.

Elliott, who will start on the third row, has finished in the Top 5 in all four of his Dover races. A late pass by Busch last fall denied Elliott the victory. It’s a small sample size, but Elliott’s average finish at Dover is 3.3.

Defending overall NASCAR champion Martin Truex Jr. has run particularly well at Dover the past four years. He won at Dover in 2016 and has an average finish of 5.88 in his last eight races at the Monster Mile. Truex is starting in the second row, next to Busch.

Perhaps the speculation about other drivers is pointless. Perhaps the AAA 400 Drive for Autism will come down to Busch and Harvick, the two most dominant drivers this year.

 

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