5 Potential NCAA Tournament First Weekend Upsets

By Ryan Haidinger
PSDC Writer

If you’re like most people you check the bracket for two things, where your favorite team ended up and which upset pick will give you bragging rights over your friends. With that in mind here are five upsets that have a great chance of happening on the first weekend of the tournament.

1. No. 12 Stephen F. Austin over No. 5 VCU

Every year it seems there is at least one No. 12 seed beating a No. 5 seed, the trick is picking the right one. The Lumberjacks are no joke having won 28 straight games on their way to a 31-2 record. At 26-8 VCU is still a very good team, but they aren’t quite up to the level of Shaka Smart’s Final Four squad of 2012. The Lumberjacks strength of schedule isn’t very good so VCU will be by far their biggest test, but a team who wins 28 straight games and has senior guards is always dangerous.

Photo Credit: USA Today

Photo Credit: USA Today

2. No. 14 Mercer over No. 3 Duke

Mercer’s successful season is no fluke, the Bears won the Atlantic Sun regular season last year before losing to eventual Cinderella Florida Gulf Coast in the A-Sun tournament. The Bears are led by Senior Guard Langston Hall who averages almost 15 points and six assists per game. Lack of height is usually the downfall of an upset bid but Mercer features good size with 6’11 250 lb. Monty Brown, 6’10 220 lb. Daniel Coursey and 6’9 205 lb. T.J. Hallice all averaging over 10 minutes per game. [Read more…]

Fantasy NASCAR Preview – Phoenix

By Travis Reinsch
PSDC NASCAR Correspondent

Daytona 500 Recap:

Well I certainly hope you all did much better than I did at Daytona last week. I had one really good pick and three really bad ones in my starting lineup. I started Dale Jr. who won the race, but I also had three drivers who all failed to even run 200 laps (Paul Menard, Tony Stewart and Brian Scott). Menard and Scott both had really fast cars and were running up front most of the race but were involved in separate crashes. Stewart hung out in the back of the field early to try and stay out of trouble, but it found him anyway as his Chevy had some major fuel system issues. He was forced to pit during a green flag run to replace most of the fuel system and he was never a factor afterwards.

I warned you in last week’s preview that Daytona can get ugly and for my team it certainly did. The only good news is that I didn’t waste any of my nine starts for the elite drives in each group. After one week I’m already way down in the standings so needless to say I’m anxious to move on to Phoenix.

NASCAR-Daytona-500

Photo Credit: naplesnews.com

If you didn’t catch my preview last week, it has the basic game rules and my Daytona 500 picks here.

Group A Picks:

Jimmie Johnson – “Six-time” finished second and third here last season and has a ridiculous average career finish of 6.3 at Phoenix. So if you decide to use a starting spot on Johnson Sunday, you should expect at least a top five finish and at this track history is definitely on your side. [Read more…]

Fantasy Racing Preview (Yahoo) – Daytona 500

By Travis Reinsch
PSDC NASCAR Correspondent

I will focus on the fantasy racing game on Yahoo because that is the one I play. I will try to keep my tips general enough for folks who play in different games also. You can also tweet me questions and I’ll try to answer them all. I like the Yahoo game because it’s pretty simple, free to play and fun. The downside to this game is that you MUST check your team at least once a week to even stand a chance to be competitive. So it’s definitely geared towards die-hard fans who don’t mind keeping up with things on a daily basis. There is no smart phone app yet for some reason but I’m hoping it gets added soon.

yahoo

Rules:

There are three separate groups of drivers to choose from, these groups will not change at all during the season. Each week you start a driver from Group A, two from Group B and another from Group C. You are also allowed the same amount of drivers in each group on your bench. You only accumulate race points from the drivers in your starting lineup however, with the exception of qualifying where your whole team is eligible to earn points if they qualify in one of the top four spots. The most interesting part of this game is that you can only use each driver in nine total races during the season. [Read more…]

A Gambling Guide to the Daytona 500

By Travis Reinsch
PSDC NASCAR Correspondent

The Daytona 500 is one of the least predictable major sporting events held in this country every year. It is an extremely hard race to handicap for bettors, but it is also just as hard to handicap for the bookies. This can mean some pretty decent odds on drivers who have a very realistic shot to win.

Photo Credit: motorauthority.com

Photo Credit: motorauthority.com

The biggest problem with betting on this race or any restrictor plate race like this, is that one tiny mistake by a driver can take out ten other cars instantly that didn’t deserve to be wrecked. Many times the best car doesn’t even make it to the end of the “Great American Race” which at times in the past has resembled a very expensive demolition derby. It’s great to watch, but it can break your heart and wallet if you are a gambling man. I’m going to give you some drivers I think have decent value at their current odds and some general tips on betting this race. [Read more…]

Handicapping the Daytona 500

By Richard T. Miller
PSDC Contributor

In those days prior to restrictor plates, any astute racing observer could watch the preliminary Daytona 500 activities and have a pretty good idea which cars were going to dominate the race. Whether it be Richard Petty’s Dodge Chargers in the 1970s, Buddy Baker’s Olds in 1980 or Bill Elliott’s Fords in the 1980s, you could conclude that the rest of the field would be racing for second place. In today’s world, any dominance a team shows in preliminary races flies out the window because restrictor plates are the great equalizer. Come Monday, we may be reporting about that improbable Cinderella story where he or she was in the right place at the right time and won the Great American Race, joining the ranks of winners like Derrick Cope, Trevor Bayne and Ward Burton. Regardless, let’s look at what drivers and teams who could legitimately cross the finish line a winner for Sunday’s race.

daytona-500

Chevrolet

Questions arose about the durability of Hendrick engines when three Chevrolets suffered failures during qualifying. The Jay Carney rep for Hendrick engines subsequently proclaimed that failures were the result a procedural process and not an engine part issue. Regardless, these engine issues must create concerns and undoubtedly will carry over to Sunday’s race and impact the teams of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kane and Jimmie Johnson. If you want pick a winner out of this group, you can never go wrong by picking Jimmie Johnson. [Read more…]

Notable Moments from the Daytona 500

By Trey Martin
PSDC NASCAR Correspondent

The Daytona 500 is almost here and race fans across this country are no doubt anxious for the season to begin so they can cheer their favorite drivers and jeer their rival and his, or possibly her, fans.

Photo Credit: LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC

Photo Credit: LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC

The Daytona 500 has the largest payout of any race of the season and through the years has created drama both on and off the track. This “drama” which some would prefer to call “passion” has had its highs such as being the first race to have all 500 laps televised live, to the lowest of lows like Black Sunday when NASCAR lost an icon, their own “man in black” that needs no introduction other than, No. 3. NASCAR lost some fans when they lost Earnhardt, yours truly included. We didn’t see how racing could again be interesting without our favorite driver. But the truth is, NASCAR drivers come and go, you can’t race forever. Losing Earnhardt was just the “adjustment” of my generations racing fans just like the retirement of Richard Petty was for the generation before. The competition and excitement that surrounds The Daytona 500 and NASCAR transcends generations. The names will change, but the genuine competition has, and always will remain the same. As we prepare to head into “Speedweek” we’re going to take a look at some of the most memorable Daytona 500 races through the years. [Read more…]

Sprint Unlimited Set to Kick Off 2014 NASCAR Season

By Travis Reinsch
PSDC NASCAR Correspondent

The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season is fast approaching with the Sprint Unlimited set for Saturday night. This three segment, 75-lap non-points race is the annual opener each season from Daytona International Speedway. TV coverage starts at 8:00 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1 with the green flag set to drop around 8:15.

Photo Credit: NASCAR.com

Photo Credit: NASCAR.com

Winners of a pole from the previous season are eligible, along with any past Sprint Unlimited race winners who tried to qualify for at least one race in the prior season. This year’s eligible participants who won a pole last season are: [Read more…]

Evolution of Racing in Daytona Beach

By Trey Martin
PSDC NASCAR Correspondent

Every February since 1959 the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, better known as NASCAR holds their opening race for the season in Daytona, FL at the Daytona International Speedway. A sport having their most popular event of the season at the beginning is unique to NASCAR and Daytona but this race has never been short of drama and excitement from the very beginnings.

daytona-beach-racing

The origins of this race date back to the 1920s when it was known as the Daytona Beach Road Course. The starting line was on a paved portion of the road course on highway A1A. Today a restaurant called Racing’s North Turn stands at the spot that would be the starting line for nearly 50 years of racing. From there racers would roar south down the highway parallel to the beach for two miles before drivers would access the treacherous sandy beach road section of the course and travel back north to the North Turn access back on to A1A to complete the 3.2 mile lap. The sandy portions of the track would claim multiple cars every race as an ill advised line or a heavier car would bog down once the sand softened from race traffic. [Read more…]

NASCAR Nationwide Series Sees Great Racing, Scary Wreck

By Katy Sulfridge
PSDC NASCAR Reporter

Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race kicked off the 2013 season with action-packed restrictor plate racing at Daytona. Trevor Bayne, who’s running his first full season with Roush Fenway Racing, took the pole position for today’s race. It didn’t take long for things to get interesting — lead changes, engine problems, wrecks — all were a part of the chaos that is Daytona.

Danica Patrick faced problems when her engine appeared to malfunction almost 40 laps in when the car lost power. The incident occurred simultaneously with a two-car wreck that included Regan Smith and Juan Carlos Blum. That brought out the day’s first caution, and ended the day early for Patrick. Momentarily, the car re-fired, leading Patrick to believe that she might have made an embarrassing rookie mistake, but further work on the car revealed that she indeed had an electrical issue. [Read more…]

Kevin Harvick Claims His Third Victory In The Sprint Unlimited

By Katy Sulfridge
PSDC NASCAR Reporter

The Sprint Unlimited-formerly known as the Budweiser Shootout-gave NASCAR fans their first glimpse of racing with the new Generation-6 cars. The non-points, no-holds-barred exhibition race took on some new features this year as fans voted on the format, the type of pit stops, whether or not to eliminate cars and even Miss Sprint Cup’s fire suit. The winning format was a 30/25/20 lap segmented race under the lights.

It didn’t take long for things to get dicey. Lap 15 of the first segment saw a nine-car incident that ruined many people’s nights, and took the field down to just 12 cars. (Terry Labonte went to the garage early.) The accident occurred after Tony Stewart miscalculated, thinking he was clear, and turned across the nose of Marcos Ambrose’s Ford. Ambrose and Stewart, along with Martin Truex Jr., were able to continue, but Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin and Denny Hamlin were finished.

[Read more…]

NASCAR Turns Budweiser Shootout Into the Sprint Unlimited

By Katy Sulfridge
PSDC NASCAR Reporter

Since 1979, one of the attractions leading up to the Daytona 500 has changed names twice. Originally dubbed the “Busch Clash” for its debut in the 1979 Speedweeks, the short, non-points race became known as the Budweiser Shootout in 1998. While this event didn’t help a driver gain championship points, the purse is generally quite large and provides excitement to get fans ready for the season opener. In the past, only pole winners and past winners of the event have been able to participate, though there have been experiments with driver eligibility in recent years.

[Read more…]

Daytona Testing Sees Speed, ‘The Big One’

By Katy Sulfridge
PSDC NASCAR Reporter

With six weeks to go before the season opening Daytona 500, NASCAR Sprint Cup teams have been out in full force. Testing at Daytona International Speedway wrapped up yesterday, after three days of high speeds, bumping and yes, crashing.  With the new Generation-6 Cup cars replacing the Car of Tomorrow, all eyes were on Daytona to see what could be expected for NASCAR’s Super Bowl.

[Read more…]