Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jimmie Johnson's team penalized for rule infractions, Knaus suspended

NASCAR has issued penalties, suspensions and fines to the No. 48 team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as a result of rules infractions found on Feb. 17 during opening day inspection for the Daytona 500.

Jimmie Johnson
The No. 48 car was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the rule book or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the event); and 20-2.1E (if in the judgment of NASCAR officials, any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR that has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance will not be permitted – unapproved car body modifications).

As a result, crew chief Chad Knaus and car chief Ron Malec have been suspended from the next six (6) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship events, suspended from NASCAR until April 18 and placed on NASCAR probation until May 9. Additionally, Knaus has been fined $100,000.

Driver Jimmie Johnson and car owner Jeff Gordon have been penalized with the loss of 25 driver and 25 owner points, respectively.

“We'll just go on to Phoenix and set our marks on winning that race,” Johnson said after his race ended prematurely on Monday evening.

"It doesn’t do any good to rehash what went wrong all week long. That’s certainly the case for us this week. We have a short turnaround, so that obviously helps. But I’m really focused on getting on track and putting up a better finish in the Kobalt Tools Chevy this weekend. It’s obviously a good place for us, so I’m looking forward to getting on track in a few days." Johnson said.

Look, there's been cheating in NASCAR since the wheel has been round. Teams are always looking for an edge. Years ago, teams used to build out the C-pillars because there was an area that they felt they could squeeze the templates and the rules. It's looking for an edge. I am more than ok with it. It's part of the sport, trying to interpret the rules. They missed, got caught, and are paying the price. I certainly don't want spec racing, IROC style. Gimme more drama, more of the track issues.

Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Brad Keselowski, king of twitter-verse, talks Phoenix

Brad Keselowski turning laps in 2011
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Dodge, made social media history on Monday night during the Daytona 500 when he became the first driver to tweet pictures from his racecar. The attention garnered during the extended red-flag period not only tripled his Twitter following to over 200,000, but it provided an interesting storyline during the long delay. Having made tweeting history Monday night by tweeting mid-race, Brad Keselowski has moved on from the pomp and circumstance of Daytona and turned his focus to the upcoming race at Phoenix.

One of the issues facing teams is the shorter work week, having raced into Tuesday morning. "We’ve moved some things around at the shop – meetings and conferences." Keselowski said. "It's really more of a problem for the motorhome drivers and the transporter drivers. NASCAR has pushed back the time that the transporters park, which was cool of them to do. Those drivers are the ones that keep this sport moving. I've talked to (crew chief) Paul (Wolfe) and my team while we've been down (at Daytona) so we're up to speed on what we need to do for Phoenix, as well as Las Vegas. I'll probably use my time back at home to take care of personal things."

"I like the new Phoenix." the twitter king said, when asked about the new configuration of the track "They did an outstanding job in making a good racetrack better. It's obviously going to take a few years before the track is in optimal condition, but with it being in the desert that process can sometimes be accelerated. I'm anxious to see how much it has aged over the winter. We saw last year that guys, myself included, were making passes through the dog leg. I don't think anyone expected that going into the race. And the run you get off of Turn 4, down the frontstretch, has stayed the same. Those are the best places to pass.”

The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will race chassis PRS-810 during Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). This is a new chassis to the No. 2 fleet. The team will toast the "Rattlesnake Hill" fans on the back bumper, with the tag line "Here's to the hill."

Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images, for

Danica Patrick recaps her Daytona debut

You gotta love being positive. Optimism is abound at the #10 hauler, as Danica Patrick keeps a good attitdue following her disappointing wreck at lap 2 Monday night at Daytona.

Danica Patrick hoped for a better run at Daytona. 
“Any lap that I turn is progression, that’s for sure,” Patrick said. “That’s why I was so proud of everyone working so hard. They were working hard to get me back on the track. Was there much to gain as far as position? No. What there was to gain was for me to get the experience of running out there. We ran in packs for a while. The car is a little bent up. Honestly, it didn’t feel perfect. So as it got later and later in the race, I didn’t want to have an influence on it. I didn’t want something to happen to it or break and shoot across the track."

“I kind of feel like I almost need to put the whole week in perspective; it’s just been up and down. Everything from running good in the Duels to crashing on the last lap, to qualifying on the pole, to running well in the Nationwide (race) to crashing; and a lot of this stuff obviously is out of your control at times. And that’s kind of the exciting time about Daytona and big tracks is that anything can happen and will happen, as we’ve seen. But I learned a lot. I got a lot of experience, and I’m really proud of the Go Daddy crew putting the car back together. They had to do some welding and whatnot. But I got back out there. It felt all right considering the fact that they were welding; I think it felt really good.”

Well, what's she going to say? "That sucks, we're hugely disappointed to run one clean lap." Let's see if she can stay so positive if the tough outings continue.

Stay tuned...

Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for

VIDEO: Juan Pablo Montoya hits jet dryer at Daytona

We'll have more on last night's race later. In the meantime, here's the video from the big fire, caused when JPM hit the jet dryer in turn three.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Brad Keselowski Tweets cool in car pic of the fire at Daytona

Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Dodge, tweeted an in car shot of the fire as the race was red flagged. It's seen below. Follow Brad Keselowski at @keselowski.

FVP Monday Night All-Star: Jessica II

Tonight we've got a returning lady for you, guys. This is our second tour of duty with Jessica. The lovely Jess hails from Ohio, where she's a big time Ohio State Buckeyes fan. Miss J is also a huge Steelers fan. She's been modeling forever, with gigs with FHM, Maxim, Spike TV, Stare and a host of others. Jessica tells us she was just named Miss January 2012 Miss Poker Centerfold, ans she's got some new photos coming out from that shoot. She's stoked for the Cincinnati Reds to start up now that spring training has started, but the thing she is most excited about is the fact that she's expecting baby #2 later this summer. Be sure to follow her on her facebook page, and her fan page here.

And a big shout out to Jessica Nation! Thanks for coming back to FVP, gang. Be sure to follow us on facebook too!

Boston Bruins: knee-jerk reaction to deadline trades

The NHL’s trade deadline has come and gone, and the Boston Bruins have acquired three players. Winger Brian Ralston will start his second tour of duty with the B’s, coming over from the Islanders with defenseman Mike Mottau (Quincy, MA and Thayer Academy). Headed to Nassau County are Marc Cantin and Yannick Riendeau. Both were with the P-Bruins. Also headed to the Hub of Hockey is Minnesota Wild defenseman Greg Zanon. Defenseman Steven Kampfer heads to Minnesota.
The Bin’s take: good moves. Ralston is 39, but is still a good two-way winger who will add depth. It would appear Chiarelli and Co. are also hoping he’ll be a mentor to the younger Bruins, in the mold of Mark Recchi. Mottau and Zanon are primarily stay-at-home defensemen who are prolific shot blockers.

Does the acquisition of two defensemen mean Johnny Boychuk is more seriously injured than it first appeared?  No. 55 took a huge hit from Chris Neil of the Ottawa Senators over the weekend, and may be concussed. Clean hit. Boychuk had his head down and got his clock cleaned.

Not so when the Sen’s Kyle Turris left his feet to smash Joe Corvo’s head into the boards. But, alas, NHL Player Safety chief Brendan Shanahan ruled there would be no supplemental disciple for Turris. Wow. Watch the replay, Brendan. This time with your eyes open. No…on second thought…watch it with your eyes closed and the sound turned up. That way you won’t let your anti-Bruins bias effect your decision. If Brad Marchand or Milan Lucic had been wearing Turris’ skates, they would be suspended until the playoffs begin. Guess it depends on what color your sweater is.

View from the Sin Bin 2.99
120227  tjz

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Breakdown of the NASCAR Championship contenders

The green flag for the NASCAR Sprint Cup season is delayed, kicking off Monday at 12pm.  The race season is a long marathon to Homestead, longer than any of the "four major" sports. A great deal will transpire between now and then. Will the Busch brothers regain some of their luster after both finished the 2011 season on sour notes? Will Carl Edwards finally break through and grab his first championship? Can Smoke repeat? What about the Hendrick teams? Is this the end of the road for Junior? Will one of the smaller teams move to the front of the pack? Let's take a look at the contenders for the 2012 championship, broken down into classes: Hall Of Fame, Victory Lane, Lap Leaders, The Pack, and Start and Parkers.

Hall Of Fame

Carl Edwards: Edwards looks to be in championship form, grabbing the pole for the Daytona 500. He drives for one of the "superteams" in Roush Racing, and he's hungry to make that next step, coming historically close last season. He'll have the full power of FoMoCo behind him as well.

Tony Stewart: Smoke's 2011 "regular season" was mediocre at best, barely qualifying for the chase. His "post season" was one for the books, including the edge of your seat, head to head battle for the win with Carl Edwards, one that quite literally came down to the final lap. Stewart book-ended Jimmie Johnson's championships, and looks to notch another as driver/team owner. Smoke can win on any track, at any time, and likely will not struggle to make the chase. He could easily defend is title. (yes, I know, it's never easy to defend)

Jimmie Johnson: Speaking of easy to defend. Johnson won five Cups in a row. Johnson drives for perhaps the premier owner in the game in Rick Hendrick. Jimmie's partnered with crew chief Chad Knauss, a partnership that ranks up there with Gordon/Evernham and Earhardt/Shelmerdine. These guys know how to get it done, and will be in the mix for the 2012 title.

Jeff Gordon: Gordon had a return to form last season, but just wasn't a factor enough in the chase to battle with Edwards and Stewart. Due to his ability to win on "any given Sunday", and the fact that he has premier equipment, Gordon can't be underestimated. The only question is whether or not he has too much on his plate, as a father, driver, part team owner, and philanthropist.

Victory Lane

Kyle Busch: Kyle Busch has also proved he's a factor on any track on the Sprint Cup schedule. He's capable of winning on Friday in a truck, Saturday in a Nationwide race, and Sunday in a Sprint Cup car. The only thing seemingly holding Busch back is the guy in the mirror. Rowdy is a bit like Cole Trickle, as Harry Hogge said; "Hell, if he listened to me, we'd hardly lose a race!" It's this fact that keeps Busch from the above category, along with the fact that the driver's ahead of him have gotten it done. Busch needs to redeem his talent and prove that he belongs among the elite of NASCAR. The only thing stopping him is himself.

Denny Hamlin: Hamlin is also a factor week in and week out. He also has a premier car owner in Joe Gibbs, and a big time sponsor in FedEx. Hamlin will need to bounce back from a sub par 2011 season, where he only had one win and five top fives. He's good enough, and the team is good enough, to do that. He should be a factor.

Matt Kenseth: Matt's a been there, done that kind of guy. He's coming off a fourth place championship finish, and was the last guy to win a championship in the old format, in 2003. He's got plenty of sponsorship on board, with Best Buy and Zest Soaps, and a team that's used to competing in Roush. The #17 team is one that quietly finds their way to to the front with consistency.

Kevin Harvick: Happy battled for the 2010 championship with Jimmie Johnson, where he stated he learned a great deal on what it takes to win a championship. He finished third behind Stewart and Edwards, 58 points back. This off season, Harvick sold off his other race teams that he co-owned with wife Delana. Harvick will be focused like a laser on the 2012 championship, and will likely be in the mix at Homestead in November.

Lap Leaders

Greg Biffle: The Biffer comes off a tough season, missing the chase and finishing 16th in points. No wins and three top fives will need to be improved upon. He's off on the right foot, starting on the front row today for the Daytona 500.

Brad Keselowski: Kez was the surprise of the 2012 season, finishing 5th in points, notching timely wins at the end of the regular season that propelled his team to the chase with a ton of momentum. It's no fluke, the kid can drive, and he's got a deep pocketed owner and sponsor. The question is whether or not he's got enough support from teammate AJ Almendinger to get the information necessary to compete with the likes of Hendrick, RCR, Roush, and Gibbs.

Ryan Newman: Newman seems to be just on the outside edge of the super teams like Hendrick, Gibbs, and Roush. He qualifies great, but seems to be missing the "it" factor that other championship contenders have. Can't put a finger on it, but he seems to be one of those guys that make the chase, but never really battle for the title.

Kasey Kahne: Kahne makes a major move into contention this year, getting behind the wheel of the #5 for Hendrick Motorsports. He could battle with the big names this year. No one would be surprised to see him in the thick of the championship hunt in October and November.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: It's really a make or break year for Junior. Does he step up this year and show he's got championship mettle, or does he fall back into the pack? One has to wonder how long Hendrick will let the #88 team stay as constituted. There's only one thing left to change. Junebug, as DW calls him, was winless last season, after a promising spring. He's going to have to focus on winning if he's going to compete with the heavy hitters of the sport. Otherwise, he's just a popular driver with a great name.

Jamie McMurray: McMurray followed his 2010 win at Daytona and Indy with a very disappointing 2011 season, coming home 27th in points. Not good, and he'll rebound this season.

The Pack:

Clint Bowyer: Clint leaves RCR for Michael Waltrip Racing this year. MWR has to prove they can run up front week in and out before FVP will consider any driver out of that garage a title contender.

AJ Almendinger: Great team owner and sponsor gives the driver of the yellow double deuce a chance. He could be the Brad Keselowski of 2012.

Paul Menard: Menard runs up front from time to time. Driving for RCR doesn't hurt that fact. Needs to be more consistent.

Martin Truex Jr.: See Clint Bowyer. The feeling here is he's better than the MWR team results show.

Jeff Burton: Burton drives for RCR and should be much better than his 2011 season results. Two top fives and 5 top tens aren't good enough for a guy this talented and a team this good.

Kurt Busch: How the mighty have fallen. Busch's well publicized tirade at Dr. Jerry Punch likely moved Busch out of the #22 and into a second tier ride with Phoenix. He's looking to rebuild his rep, and nothing will do that better than making the chase. Of course, he could be nice while he's doing it. Busch is one of those "God, Team, Sponsor" guys that say the right thing when the camera's on 'em, and then show their real colors when the lights are off. It will be interesting to see if a leopard can change his spots.

David Ragan: Ragan's out at Roush, moving over to Front Row Motorsports and the #34 Ford. Unfortunately for Ragan, the team likely won't have the resources that Roush had.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr: Takes over for Ragan in the #6 for Jack Roush. With Factory Ford livery in his corner, he's an up and comer. He'll likely break through and get to victory lane. Making the chase is a lofty goal.

Marcus Ambrose: Ambrose was surprisingly close last season, with a win, and 12 top tens. It would a lot of fun to see him bring the #9 to the chase for Richard Petty Motorsports. If he were to repeat last season's results, and things broke just right for him, it's not inconceivable to have Ambrose in the chase.

Juan Pablo Montoya: One of these season, Montoya's going to put it all together and move up to elite status,  right there with the the Stewarts, Edwards' and Johnsons of NASCAR. That fact that he's still back here show's you how difficult it is to make the switch from open wheel to stock cars.

Joey Logano: Joey came to Joe Gibbs as a can't miss kid. Well... Still a very young guy, but some of the luster is off the driver of the #20 Home Depot car.

Start and Parkers:

These guys really have no shot at a championship, and will likely be thrilled to get to victory lane. Among them are: Regan Smith, Bobby Labonte, David Reutimann, Dave Blaney, Mark Martin and Danica Patrick. Now before you lose your mind about the last two, remember they are part timers at this point of the season. Martin is slated to drive a minimum of 25 races, and Patrick is running ten races.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Daytona 500 starting grid

Row 1:
1 99 Carl Edwards Fastenal Ford
2 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford

Row 2:
3 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet
4 17 Matt Kenseth Best Buy Ford

Row 3:
 5 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet
6 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row/CSX Play It Safe Chevrolet

Row 4:
7 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford
8 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet

Row 5:
9 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
10 33 Elliott Sadler(i) General Mills/Kroger Chevrolet

Row 6:
11 98 * Michael McDowell No.98 KLOVE/Curb Records Ford Ford
12 20 Joey Logano The Home Depot Toyota

Row 7:
13 29 Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet
14 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Brown Toyota

Row 8:
15 22 AJ Allmendinger Shell Pennzoil Dodge
16 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet

Row 9:
17 7 * Robby Gordon MAPEI/Menards/SPEED Energy Dodge
18 39 Ryan Newman U.S. ARMY/Quicken Loans Chevrolet

Row 10:
19 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet
20 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet

Row 11:
21 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(i) Ford EcoBoost Ford
22 55 Mark Martin Aaron's Toyota

Row 12:
23 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Dodge
24 36 * Dave Blaney Ollie's Bargain Outlet Chevrolet

Row 13:
25 34 David Ragan Scorpion Truck Bedliners Ford
26 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota

Row 14:
27 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Helping Hungry Homes Ford
28 51 Kurt Busch Chevrolet

Row 15:
29 10 Danica Patrick(i) Chevrolet
30 15 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota

Row 16:
31 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota
32 47 Bobby Labonte Kroger Toyota

Row 17:
33 38 David Gilliland MHP/Power Pak Pudding Ford
34 87 * Joe Nemechek(i) AM FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves Toyota

Row 18:
35 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
36 13 Casey Mears GEICO Ford

Row 19:
37 27 Paul Menard Menards/Peak Chevrolet
38 93 David Reutimann Burger King Toyota

Row 20:
39 83 Landon Cassill Burger King Toyota
40 21 * Trevor Bayne(i) Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford

Row 21:
41 26 *Tony Raines Front Row Motorsports Ford
42 30 * David Stremme Inception Motorsports Toyota

Row 22:
43 32 * Terry Labonte C&J Energy Ford PC

Did Not Qualify: #40 Michael Waltrip; #23 Robert Richardson Jr.(i); #97 Bill Elliott; #37 Mike Wallace(i); #09 Kenny Wallace(i); #49
JJ Yeley.

Danica wrecks on last lap of qualifying race, will start 500 in a back up car

Oh so close...

Danica Patrick was involved in a last lap wreck in the first qualifying race for the Daytona 500 today, destroying the #10 Chevy Impala. Patrick will still race on Sunday, having earned the 29th starting spot in Sunday’s 54th Daytona 500, but she will be forced to race in her backup car and move to the rear of the field before the start, per NASCAR rules.

What's left of Danica Patrick's Chevy
after wrecking today
Patrick was in 14th place and exiting turn two on lap 60 when the Ford of Aric Almirola was hit by another car. Almirola’s car, which was on the outside of Patrick’s Chevrolet, was forced into the right side of Patrick’s car. The resulting contact sent Patrick’s machine into 180-degree spin across the infield pavement before she made heavy contact with the SAFER Barrier on the inside backstretch wall with the right front of her machine. The car was extensively damaged, but Patrick walked away from the accident and was checked and released from the infield care center.

“I’m betting that everybody that was watching on TV probably had the best look,” Patrick said. “From my perspective, it was obviously the last lap and the bottom lane started moving well, so that is where I was. We were just getting our run down the back, and all of a sudden I got hit. I’m betting that somebody also got hit outside of me. I’m going to have to look.

“It was just a chain reaction. Every person that gets hit, next and next and next. It gets bigger and bigger. It felt like a pretty big hit, so I don’t know what it looked like. I’m really just bummed out that we didn’t finish the last two corners. Instead we have a Go Daddy car in the wall and lots of damage. But maybe the backup car will be faster.”

Patrick, who started 17th, still gained valuable experience in her first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
“If that would have happened at the beginning (of the race), it would have been very frustrating to not have that experience,” Patrick said. “I was definitely picking up a lot about the side drafting and about which lanes move well. How to just pick up the draft in front of me without pushing it away and trying to stay in a nice pocket there. Of course, I’m going to go back, and I’m going to be asking what I need to do. I’m definitely asking Tony (Stewart) what to do."

“At times it was much calmer than I expected, to be honest. At times when we got single file or just very steady, two-lane racing, it was pretty calm. I felt like I learned a lot. I felt like I learned a lot about the side draft and what to do in those situations and get the most out of it.”

Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Daytona 500 Grand Marshal: only the hottest woman on the internet

...and Sue from Glee.

Kate Upton and Jane Lynch, who will be starring in the new Three Stooges movie, will be giving the command of "gentlemen, start your engines!" this Sunday as NASCAR kicks off the 2012 season.

Still reading? “We look forward to Jane and Kate’s participation in the pre-race ceremonies, adding to the star power of NASCAR’s biggest and richest race of the year,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “Also, the thousands of race fans in attendance and the millions more watching on FOX Sports are eagerly waiting to experience ‘Stoogemania,’ when The Three Stooges deliver the green flag”.

Ok, here's what you came for, the gratuitous Kate Upton gallery:
Kate Upton - Jenna Leigh Lingerie Collection
 Ph: Michael David Adams

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Where have the Boston Bruins gone?

Well, our extended All-Star break is over and the View from the Sin Bin is back. Problem is, it appears the Bruins are still on their break. The B’s have hit the proverbial rough patch since around the first of the year, going 11-12-1 since January 1. The Black-and-Gold are still in second place in the Eastern Conference, but the Rangers are pulling away from the pack.

What happened? In a word, everything. Goaltending has come back to earth. Tim Thomas is starting to look his age and may be distracted by his off-ice Facebook issues, although he claims not to be. Tuukka Rask has looked good at times, but has been inconsistent. The defense is still there, but the big problem seems to be a distinct lack of consistent goal scoring. The Flyers have overtaken the B’s in leading the league in goals scored per game. The Bruins are now fourth in the NHL in goals against per game, after having led the league in both categories.

On the bright side, Tyler Seguin continues to improve and has looked almost magical at times. He’s second on the team with 46 points (20-26), two behind the biggest All-Star snub of the last ten years, Patrice Bergeron (17-31). Milan Lucic is third with 42 (20-22). Adam McQuaid has emerged as a physical force on the blue line.

But something is missing. Nathan Horton will be out indefinitely with a concussion. It appears related to the one he suffered during the Stanly Cup finals last year. His offensive spark is missed in the first line. The Bin went to the post office the other day and saw a picture of Joe Corvo on the wall. ‘Nuff said.

Time for a shakeup before this season devolves even more. Carter Camper was called up this week. He has 38 points (14-24) with the P-Bruins this season. Not sure he’ll be lighting the lamp regularly on his first call up with the big team, but we’ll see. You’ll recall last year’s mid-season trade that brought Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly to Beantown. Peter Chiarelli and company may want to look at a Rick Nash (although the price will be high), Ray Whitney, or perhaps Jeff Carter.

The sky is not falling, but there are storm clouds off on the horizon.

View from the Sin Bin 2.x  2/21/12 tjz

Kevin Harvick: Daytona is the biggest and the best

Kevin Harvick gets caught up in an incident during
Saturday's Bud Shootout
2007 Daytona 500 champion Kevin Harvick knows a thing or two about winning The Great American race. In 10 starts, Harvick has one win, 5 top fives, and nine top tens. He's also led 178 laps at Daytona International, so it's a pretty good bet that Happy will be in the mix as the sun sets in eastern Florida on Sunday evening. Even Harvick understands the build up as the NASCAR Super Bowl kicks off the 2012 season. "There is a lot of anticipation, a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of hype and build up and, usually, you see something crazy happen at the beginning of these races." Harvick said recently. "You want to make it through the first part of the race and try to keep yourself from getting torn up. I think we made it 23 laps last year and had an engine failure. You never know what is going to happen."

Harvick holds several impressive Loop Data statistics at DIS, including: second in fastest laps run (67 laps); sixth in green-flag passes (2,732); eighth in closers; eighth in laps led (100); 10th in driver rating (86.3). The driver of the #29 Budweiser Chevy circled the high banks of Daytona with the 20th-fastest lap in the Daytona 500 qualifying session on Sunday, earning the team a 12th-place starting spot in the first Duel 150 race on Thursday. RCR chassis #387 makes it's first start this weekend.

 Winning the Daytona 500 is a career defining moment for any driver, including a vet of ten starts, one who's already won the big event. "When you are standing in Victory Lane and you look at that Harley J. Earl trophy and you see the names on that trophy, you start to see the recognition and the list of people you put yourself on there with. It is something that is pretty special. This is our sport's biggest race and everybody puts their biggest effort into this race because you have the most time. It has the most hype and it pays the most money. It has the most prestigious trophy and there is nothing about this race that is not the biggest or the best."

Harvick drives for one of the biggest and the best in Childress, sponsored by arguably the biggest in Budweiser. He, like the rest of the field, know what's ahead. "You have to be ready for anything. It's like your whole season all in one week. You can't let the highs be too high and the lows be too low. You have to stay very level minded about everything, let the week play out and be ready for the (Daytona) 500."

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Monday, February 20, 2012

Carl Edwards on winning the pole for Daytona: This is very special

Carl Edwards climbs out of his #99
after his qualifying run
Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart gave NASCAR fans an historic championship battle last season. Saturday night Stewart has picked up right where he left off, coming home second to Rowdy Busch in the Bud Shootout. Sunday, Carl Edwards nabbed the pole for the Great American Race, as he and teammate Greg Biffle swept the front row for Sunday's Daytona 500. Edwards qualified with a speed of 194.738 miles an hour, the fastest pole sitting speed for the Daytona 500 since 1999.

"This is very special. It's not a driving accomplishment. This is a team accomplishment, this pole. As a driver, any one of the drivers out there that would have gone out at the time I had gone out, would have been driving that 99 car, the Fastenal Fusion, this he would have run the same lap time I did." Edwards said.

He added  "This pole and these qualifying sessions at these restrictor plate racetracks, it shows you what the guys are doing at the shop, it shows you the engine capabilities, the engineering, the decisions by guys like Chip and Bob. So this is about the team. Today there's a lot of pride in this for everyone. Just like Jack said. I'm excited to have all the guys back at the shop this week know they sent the best racecars down to Daytona."

Team owner Jack Roush talked about the pole, the  win on Sunday, sell on Monday attitude that used to be prevalent in NASCAR. " It was great." Roush said. "We had a sweep that's in the record books for 2004. We had one of Robert Yates' No. 38 car and Greg Biffle's No. 16 car there then. It's great for Ford Motor Company. Ford has been behind my racing and been a great partner for more than 40 years now. Some days, many days, they don't get what they deserve, but today we've rejoiced in the success. I'll be happy to get the phone calls early in the week from people as they go back to work and read the newspapers and figure out what happened. Hopefully they can sell some more Fords on Monday, as well."

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR

FVP Monday Night All-Star: Angel Holly

We have our second Hawaiian All-Star. It's Speedweeks at Daytona, and Angel Holly makes the roster here at FVP looking good in a checkered flag bikini. What else do we need to say? Oh yeah, follow her on facebook here.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rowdy wins impressively after two spins in Bud Shootout

Say what you will about Kyle Busch. He's not known for having NASCAR's most mellow disposition. He's still looking to live down the Ron Hornaday incident. Regardless of what you think about Rowdy's personality, the kid can drive. Busch came back from two spins to survive win the 2012 Bud Shootout at Daytona last night. Busch spun twice, making great saves both times, then avoided the big wrecks of the evening to battle defending series champion Tony Stewart off turn four, edging Smoke at the line for the win.

One of Kyle Busch's miraculous saves. 
Busch's first incident happened at lap 47, when his #13 M&M's Camry got tapped by the #48 of Jimmie Johnson. Busch was able to regain control of the car and the race remained under green. "I wasn't clear of Jimmie. I was trying to get back down the racetrack and clipped him a little bit." Busch said.

The second incident happened at lap 74, this time as a result of contact from Jeff Gordon in turn four. Busch recapped the experience. "with Jeff Gordon behind me, I got him pushing on me through one and two making me really loose. I'm glad the straightaway came when it did because otherwise I was going to spin out. He got back on me a few more times on the straightaway moving me around, I think trying to move me out of the way. Getting into three, hit me again, hit me on the left rear corner, spun me out. I don't know what the deal was there." Busch said.

"The first time might have been luck; I’m going to say the second time was all skill," Busch joked. "It was interesting from my seat. I was steering, stabbing, braking, gassing, everything in between, trying to keep the thing straight, get it back under control." Busch restarted in ninth place as the field returned to racing for a green-white-checkered finish. He quickly moved to the front of the field in tandem with Stewart and on the final lap found himself directly behind leader Stewart as they entered Turn 4. As they exited that turn, Busch pulled to the high side and inched ahead of Stewart just before the finish line to win.

 "This win certainly ranks up there," Busch said. "Being knocked around and beat around, almost spun out a couple times, being able to prevail through all that and still come through. Obviously, there were 10 cars left at the end of the race; we didn’t have much to pass. It’s not like the 500 where there still might be 22 of them or something."

 "It was certainly cool because I was trying to push (Ryan) Newman and hook up with him. Then he was hooked up with whoever was in front of him. I’m like, ‘All right, fine.’ The hole opened up behind Stewart. I ducked in behind there knowing he had a fast car and pushed him. We got up through there. He made the way to the outside and everything. Coming to the line, I’ve been in that situation reverse before with Tony, and it hasn’t ended up so well. This time it turned out all right. We made it past him and beat him to the line, so it was cool."

It was another display of the talent behind the wheel of the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Camry. Whether Rowdy can stay under control with his emotions may determine if he's holding the Sprint Cup in Homestead this November.

The green flag has dropped for the 2012 season...

photo credit: Matt Stockman, Getty Images

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kurt Busch sports new colors for Shootout, looks to put Punch incident behind him

Defending Budweiser Shootout winner Kurt Busch makes his first start driving the #51 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing this weekend at Daytona. The new team for Busch is a decidedly smaller team than what he's done in the past, driving previously for Penske and Roush. Busch calls it old school racing.

“Yeah, this is old-school racing the way James Finch (owner, Phoenix Racing) does it. He has a lot of fun, but he’s serious about it. Because we have Hendrick motors and chassis, the bodies are subbed out to a group that builds them off the recipe from Hendrick engineers. So there is a great deal of support but, also, there is that laid-back attitude of, ‘Let’s go to the track and have some fun.’” Busch said recently.

Busch's #51 will sport the livery of Tag Heuer Avant Guard Eyewear, pictured below.

Busch looks to get beyond his season ending rant at ESPN's Dr. Jerry Punch, which we've got at the bottom of this post. Busch gave Punch an expletive laden earful after dropping out of the season finale that can be speculated as the straw that broke the camel's back for Busch's tenure at Penske.

Busch talked about some of the help he got from some of the team owners during the off season. “Yeah, I leaned on quite a few car owners for advice, for help, as well. If there are any leads on sponsor dollars. We were trying to talk with other guys." Busch stated recently. "Talking with a bunch of different owners and key people in the sport. It was a lot of fun dealing with some of the tough deals behind the scenes. Felix Sabates stuck his neck out with me to try to help with Finch, and I owe a lot to Felix for helping make this deal happen. Even Rick Hendrick, who had to give the blessing, because this is his equipment and these are his cars, more or less, that Finch buys from him. But they’re all connected together.” KB said.

Busch had a well publicized sit down with Richard Petty this winter, and he spoke of that while at Daytona for pre-season testing. Busch clearly hopes that he can get back into a major ride for next season. "Well, my objective is to keep the eye on 2013's big prize, and going in and talking with as many teams as I did this off-season, my original plan was to work with as many groups as I possibly could, find four or five races with these guys, those guys, run Nationwide, do this, trucks even, and associate myself with as many sponsors, teams and people. That way they get to know me and go, wow, what's really the problem here, and the problem is when there's a bad day on the track, that's when there's the only issue."

 "But talking with King, I was so nervous going into his old wooden office in Level Cross, North Carolina. What was funny is there was a police checkpoint about two miles before I got to his shop, and I showed my ID to the policeman, and they went, Oh, you're going to talk to King, aren't you, and I was just so nervous because I thought something was going to go wrong because I'm scared on my own shadow at certain points, and to talk with those guys, they knew what was going on with me going to talk to King."

"And talking with King, it was weird to hear his comments yesterday because he was ready to throw me in the car and we would have been down the road. But the contracts just didn't align on where they were and where I wanted to be, and so I talked with Finch, made the deal happen. But also talked with Waltrip Racing. I went to meet with Richard Childress at his winery and talk shop."

 "Just the doors that were opened during this off-season to talk to people, yes, 2012 is going to be a unique year for somebody such as myself. But to take a step back for me personally and look at all of this, this is what I need. And all along we're going to keep our eyes on the prize in 2013."

Here's the rant, something Busch hopes to distance himself from during the 2012 season.

McDowell lands full time Sprint Cup ride for 2012

Five year NASCAR vet Michael McDowell has been tabbed to run the full 2012 Sprint Cup season for Phil Parsons Racing. McDowell will pilot the #98 Ford Fusion for Parsons and new partner Mike Curb. Parsons merged his team with Whitney Motorsports during the off-season hoping to increase fortunes for the '12 season.

The #98 Fusion will run Roush power under the hood. The head will be headed up by crew chief Gene Nead, who has worked with McDowell in previous Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series efforts at PPR and Michael Waltrip Racing.

"This is the opportunity I've been looking for – to work with various Christian music outlets, Mike Curb and Curb Records, and our other partnerships that are taking shape,” said McDowell, who has 84 Sprint Cup starts to his credit. “This opportunity will allow me to expand my brand and put me in a position to work with the types of companies I've been wanting to work with for a long time. On the racetrack, I’m excited about the chance to have my best NASCAR season ever.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tony Stewart: no rest for the victors

Tony Stewart in action in 2011
NASCAR returns to action this weekend, going from the relative quiet of the offseason to the hectic pace of Speedweeks and the biggest race of the year, the Daytona 500. Many teams and drivers try to get away and clear their heads in the brief break between Homestead and Daytona. This isn't the case for defending series champion Tony Stewart, who's off-season was focused on his new crew chief Steve Addington and new competition director Greg Zipadelli.

"There’s been a lot of work that’s gone on in the organization and I’ve pretty much stuck around just for moral support." Smoke stated recently. "When you hire a new crew chief and competition director, you don’t want to hire them and say, ‘I’m going on vacation. You guys can work. I’m going on vacation.’ So I felt like I needed to be at the shop a little more. I didn’t do anything other than just be there for moral support for them. I think that meant a lot to those guys and to the team, that we were there a lot."

"NASCAR is pretty efficient now with the driver’s time. There are a lot of things that we have to do, but you do it whether you’re the champion or not. There aren’t extra responsibilities or obligations because you’re the champion. But NASCAR does a really good job every year of making things more efficient for us as drivers, too, and understanding the time that the sponsors and the teams need from us. I didn’t do a lot in the offseason. I didn’t take much time for myself, but I guess I felt so good about what we did at the end of the year that you want to spend that time with the team and do what you can to get ready for next year. Hopefully, it gives us the opportunity to do it again." Stewart said.

Speaking of Addington, Stewart talked about bringing him on board. "When we saw him at Joe Gibbs Racing and worked with him and Kyle (Busch) together, Steve’s one of those guys who has a lot of practical knowledge, having been in the sport a long time. But he’s one of those guys who I think is really easy to work with. I mean, in team meetings with him, he was easy to talk to. That communication was really easy. It wasn’t always easy to talk to some of the other crew chiefs we had. So, having him on board, I think that’s part of why we made that decision, because I felt like he’s a guy I could work with really easily. He’ll be my third crew chief, now. The first two guys I had were easy to work with. So I think we’ve been really lucky from that standpoint, to have guys we communicate well with and get along with. Steve just kind of is one of those guys who is a lot like Darian (Grubb, former crew chief). I think he may not have all the engineering background that Darian has, but I think he’s got the practical knowledge and is a better fit for me."

Stewart and Addington bring chassis #14-634 to the Shootout this weekend. This car was built for Daytona last year, ran 10th fastest on time, qualified 25th, and finished 13th. The car led 30 laps at the fall Talladega race, finishing 7th. It's had extensive wind tunnel time since then.

Photo Credit: Steve Pouliot Images for

Monday, February 13, 2012

FVP Monday Night All-Star: Leanne Marie

Another Philly hottie for you, gang. They must grow on trees or something! Leanne tells us she's an Eagles fan, (go figure), now that the NFL season is over, she'll split time with the 76ers and the Flyers, hometown teams. She's got a calender out, here, that she's donating proceeds to the fight against cancer. That's very cool. She's got a Sunday night gig co-hosting the Rob Velivis Show, which is a somewhat sports oriented internet radio show with a video webcast over at She just launched her facebook fan page, so we're gonna give her a boost with that by clicking here. Leanne Marie models full time and works promotions for LineRocket while studying to be a paralegal. She has been a Bud Light Fantasy Girl and appeared in the largest Eagles football fan calendar, Green Legion. Now, FVP girl too!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Boston Red Sox truck day is a joke.

From the fine folks that brought you Pink Hat Nation, we have Truck Day. For the uninitiated, Truck Day is the celebration of the Red Sox equipment truck loading up and heading south for spring training. No kidding. This is a perfect example of manufacturing image or news where it is not needed.

According to the team's website, team president and CEO Larry Lucchino and Wally The Green Monster greeted about 100 fans as the team loaded gear onto a semi for the move to spring training. "Another traditional ceremonial kickoff to the season, if you can pardon the football expression, as we start the baseball season with the truck going to Spring Training," Lucchino said. "It's great -- it's inspirational, actually. I come to this every year because of the fans who come up. Some fans [are here] who drove from Pennsylvania for the truck departure, people that came up from New York for the truck departure, and a lots of folks locally who came over."

This is exhibit A of the Red Sox organization pandering to the fans in the cheesiest manner. It's a truck full of equipment for crying out loud. Red Sox management continues to court the Pink Hats with stunts like this, neglecting the core fan base that will be with the team when they drop into fourth this season, behind New York, Tampa, and Toronto.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

20 New England Patriots free agents: who to keep?

Talk about not even taking a breath. The New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick really stated that on Monday, intimating that there wasn't going to be a long off-season for the folks down on Route 1. "We'll try to take a little time here, regroup, figure out some of things that we need to do and move forward. The combine is in two and a half weeks. I'm sure there will be lot of things on the agenda between now and then so we'll just take them as they come." The Hoodie said. So basically, they unpack from the Super Bowl loss, look around, and head right back out to the scene of the crime in Indianapolis for the beginning of the 2012 off-season with the NFL Combine. So, in light, lets take a look at the twenty free agents for the Pats.

•WR Wes Welker: Welker should be priority #1 this off-season. The Patriots will likely use the franchise tag while they work out a long term deal. Possible issue: Welker will be 31 this year, and the Pats have typically resisted long term deals for older players. A three year deal ought to be the max for New England. The good news? Everything from the Welker camp is that he wants to be back.

•DE Mark Anderson: 10 sacks for the 28 year old out of Alabama should get him a flier back to Foxboro. The rub will be if someone throws stupid money at him to move on.

•WR Deion Branch: Branch is not who he was before he left. It would not be a surprise if Foxboro elected to get younger at WR and let Branch go. The problem for Branch is he may have limited options. He may need to stay here at a reduced rate and role.

•RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis: Law Firm's a good fit, but the Pats certainly won't pay him feature back money. He'll likely get good offers from other teams. The question is whether or not he'll want to stay.

•DE Andre Carter: Carter played well for New England, and was arguably the best pass rusher since the departure of Willie McGinest. His 10 sack would have likely gotten him a fat contract, but his injury late in the year may scare off some teams. Value will be the key to Carter's stay in Foxboro.

•OL Dan Connolly: Connolly is a six year vet who was limited by a groin injury this season, missing three games. It will be interesting to watch and see if the Pats opt to get younger here.

•WR Matthew Slater: Slater was named to his first Pro-Bowl this season, as a special teamer. He had one reception as a receiver. The four year vet will also likely get offers elsewhere, proving himself a versatile player, playing offense, defense, and special teams. Belichick loves guys like this, true football players. He'll be offered an opportunity to stay as well.

•RB Kevin Faulk : The 13 year vet has likely played his last down in Foxboro. He was notably inactive for Super Bowl XLVI. He only appeared in seven regular season games, and had only 24 touches. He'll be remembered as a great Patriot.

•DE Shaun Ellis: Ellis can be considered a disappointment, with only 14 tackles and 1 sack. Ellis will likely not be back as the Flying Elvii look to get younger.

•LB Gary Guyton: Guyton did not see any action this post season, last seeing the field week 13 vs. Indy. This can't bode well for a return in 2012.

•DB Nate Jones: Jones is one of those "off the street" guys, signed by New England November 30. Jones started the season in Miami, playing in two games. With Ras-I Dowling coming back from IR, he's going to have his work cut out.

•LB Niko Koutouvides: Another 8 year vet, Koutouvides recorded seven tackles and likely will be battling for a roster spot.

•DL Gerard Warren: Veteran leadership is what you get from the 11 year pro. The Pats may opt to get younger.

•LB Tracy White: Another area that the Pats need to improve upon on the defensive side of the ball. White's  37 tackles may get him an invite back, but like so many on this list, he'll be battling for position.

•C Dan Koppen : spent the majority of the season on IR. Do the Pats need to overpay here? No, but he's better option pass blocking than the younger Dan Connolly. Age is an issue.

•S James Ihedigbo: Safety is an area of great need down on Route One. Ihedigbo could be back, but not likely to be a starter.

•DL Kyle Love: Bring back Kyle Love. The young DL has plenty of upside and should be cheap.

•QB Brian Hoyer: What is the going rate for clipboard carriers? Don't overpay for Hoyer and keep the continuity until Ryan Mallett is ready.

•CB Antwaun Molden: Upgrade is needed in the secondary. Pass.

•S Bret Lockett: Spent the season on IR. Better than Ihedigbo?

FVP Monday Night All Star: Brooklyn II

Well, Tuesday AM actually, but what the hell. Brooklyn is another returning FVP veteran, and we're stoked to have her back! She's currently in the Maxim Hot 100 contest for 2012, and she's definitely hot. Brooklyn is a twenty-two year old LA based model/actress born and raised in Southern California, having worked with Monster Energy, Kumho Tires, Umbrella Girls USA, Aqua Fresh, and of course, fanviewpoint! She's a regular tweeter, and she's got some hotness posted over on facebook, of course. Be sure to vote for her in the Maxim contest, links for which are on her facebook page!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI Aftermath, Gisele, more Gronkowski party pics, and Steve De

Well, that didn't go so well, now did it? We could get into a breakdown of what went wrong for the New England Patriots, who didn't block, pass, or catch what and all that goes with it. Meh. That just gets lost in the white noise of the national "mainstream" media. Instead, let's take a look at the aftermath, and what has come to light today.

  • Gisele Bundchen was caught on camera with a slight potty mouth after being heckled by some New York Giants fans following the loss. She's heard saying "He didn't catch the ball when he was supposed to catch the ball. My husband cannot f*cking throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time." The clip below shows that, but it drops off before the reported "I can't believe they dropped the ball so many times." A few things come to mind on this. 1) Good for her, defending her husband. She's got a little spunk. I dig that. 2) It shows her diva mentality. The world revolves around Gisele and, by extension, her husband. She's got no concept of team, shown in her Tommy can't do everything attitude. More on the lack of privacy for today's athlete below. 

Gronk being Gronk with LMFAO
  • Pics of Rob Gronkowski and Matt Light partying post-Super Bowl hit the interwebs today, notably over on deadspin. This was met on the boards with some "oh they don't care about the fans" whining. Do you want them to go home and cry? Please. If you like Gronk because of his knucklehead, don't give a shit persona, then this comes with it. They've been busting ass since, what, July? I am sure they are dying to blow off some steam. Whatever. Is it insensitive to the fans? Maybe. Are we being a little sensitive? Yeah. The guys are human, and not football playing robots that Belichick puts on the field for the game and back into a closet after. More importantly, stories like this are why Brady doesn't go out. No privacy. I say let them be. EDIT: Video of Matt Light below DeOssie's rant. 
  • Former NFL'er Steve DeOssie, who now makes his living covering the Pats for Comcast Sportsnet and WEEI in Boston gave an impassioned speech at a Giants rally before the game Sunday, where he stated "You know what, even if my son wasn't playing on the Giants, I would pick the Giants, because they are a better team..." He added "I just came from doing one of our pre-game shows, and  we're up there and I got five guys, and there all talking about how great this is, and how great that is, and Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez and Welker. I said I know you got some great receivers, I know you got a great quarterback, but how hard is it to throw that ball when you got JPP, Osi, Tuck all over the place? I feel like I've come home here. I am a Giant in my heart. I'm so glad my son's a NY Giant. I struggle sometimes up in New England, but I know I got a home in New York. I love you guys, my son loves you guys, thank you very very much." Wow. Talk about shitting where you eat. This is not going to play well with the fans of New England. I have no problem with the guy being loyal to his son. He should be. If my son was lucky enough to play in the NFL, I would pull for that team no matter what. I wouldn't go on stage at team function and bleed Giant Blue if I drew paychecks from the opposing market. Here's the clip:

Anyone want to consider that Matt Light might be calling it a career?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI prediction

Here we are, game day, Super Bowl Sunday. Can I get a yeehah!? There's some distinct possibilities that can go down as the New England Patriots take on The New York Giants. Let's look at the possibilities, and finally, how I think it'll go.

  1. Eli Manning and the NY Giants expose the Patriots secondary for what they are. If you listen to the talking heads, this is the likely scenario. The Pats have cut better athletes this season than the guys who are starting in the defensive backfield this game. If this were the NBA, where the better athletic gifts rule the court, that would be a problem. This is not the NBA, thankfully, and the game is still dominated by teams and not athletes. Look for the Pats to make just enough plays on defense to get by. 
  2. The Giants D line is simply too much for the Pats. This is a problem to be sure. Keeping Tom Brady upright is an important story line today. Look for the Pats to have just enough running game to make the Giants respect the play action. Also, Kevin Faulk will have one final game of picking up the blitz and be a key to the Pats success. 
  3. Giants running game is too much for the Pats. Brandon Spikes, Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork will have something to say about the Giants ability to run the ball. The fact that the Patriots cut Tiquan Underwood in favor of DL Alex Silvestro could be a tip of the hand that the Pats will be rotating D-linemen at a high rate in the hopes of wearing down the G-men on the O line. 
  4. Patriots have no receivers outside the numbers. Can you spell S-C-R-E-E-N? Aaron Hernandez will likely be lined up in as many as five different spots (slot, TE, FB, RB, and outside WR). As much as I'd like to say "pffft", the fact that Kid-n-Play Tiquan Underwood got cut does mean that OchoCinco moves up the depth chart. If you believe in Hollywood type scripts, he could make a difference today. Reality: He only needs to make two or three catches outside to be effective and make the Giants respect the outside game. 
I've pretty much tipped my hand here. Look for the Pats to establish the run, make the Giants respect it, and that will open up the play action. Wes Welker is going to have a huge game, Super Bowl MVP type of day. Once the Giants double him, that will free up Aaron Hernandez or even a 80% Rob Gronkowski. The Pats will have too many weapons for the suspect Giants secondary (Antrel Rolle?) and would almost welcome a shootout, which plays right into the Pats offensive game. The Disciples of The Hoodie will control the tempo of the game and win handily. Sorry Steven Gostkowski, no Vinatieri moment for you. Patriots, 34-24.

Enjoy the game. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

What Super Bowl XLVI means to Brady and Belichick's legacy

Another key story line of this weekend's game is the whole "legacy" issue. What does it mean to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick?  It's really a two pronged answer, because it means different things to each of them. If you count Super Bowl rings as a measuring stick, a win set them both up strongly in any category. A loss effects each differently.

Regarding Belichick, a loss really doesn't change his standing regarding the Hall Of Fame. He still has five rings. He still goes in as arguably the greatest coach in NFL history, and nothing that happens Sunday will change that. What will change is people's opinion on The Hooded One regarding Spygate. Let me rephrase: Some people's opinions will change. Haters will still hate. The Marshall Faulks of the world, those who can't believe they lost to a team with less physical gifts will never get over it. It goes to show that those types simply don't get it. Football is a team sport, it's not the NBA, where the group of five guys with the best athletic gifts usually win. Digression, sorry...

A win will change Belichick's legacy as far as Spygate goes. Unfortunately, it's always there, but if he does win, especially with this defense, the specter hanging over him goes away to a large extent. He'll have won with a clearly inferior defense. Belichick will have done so by coaching up guys who will listen, want to be here, do as they are told, and execute the game plan. In short, they follow the Patriot Way. Wow. I haven't used that term to describe this team all season.  Feels pretty good.

Tom Brady
Tom Brady's legacy is a far different story. A win puts him at the forefront of any "best QB" discussions. He'll be 4-1 in Super Bowl games, one of only two men to have even QB'd in the big game five times. (John Elway).  He's the only QB to go 16-0, only quarterback to start and win 3 Super Bowls before his 28th birthday, he holds the record for fewest starts to achieve 100 regular-season wins as a starter (131), and he's one of two players to win multiple MVP and Super Bowl MVP awards (Joe Montana). A win puts a glossy shine on a "best ever" discussion.

If you view the Super Bowl as the measuring stick of success, a final thesis if you would, then a loss puts Brady in a different category. It drops him to 3-2, into a group of QB's with multiple starts and multiple wins. He'll be at the front of the class with guys like Roger Staubach (2-2), Bob Griese (2-1), Ben Roethlisberger (2-1), Troy Aikman (3-0), Bart Starr and Jim Plunkett (2-0). I don't think anyone in their right mind would disagree with the statement that Brady is best of that group. Great still, HoF lock certainly, but not best ever.

Quite simply, a win makes Tom Brady the best QB in the modern era of the game.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How The New England Patriots Can Win

It seems that Las Vegas is the only ones who think the New England Patriots can beat the New York Giants on Sunday. Just about every talking head has the Giants beating the Pats, and somewhat handily at that. Well, those us at FVP are homers sick of it. Listening to the mouthpieces, and you'd think the Pats are playing the 49ers offense of the 80's, the Steelers defense of the 70's, coached by none other than Vince Lombardi himself. Shut it. Here's a brief breakdown of how the Pats can beat the G-men.

Win the field position game. Eli Manning is going to put up yardage. Gaudy, legendary, oh-wow-look-at-that type numbers. One of the tricks for the Pats will be to force a handful of three-and-outs, and then turn those opportunities in to at least a field position advantage. If the Pats can keep the Giants starting deep in their own territory, they can get away with giving up yardage without giving up scores. Remember, these two teams played a scoreless first half earlier this year. The Giants are not unstoppable, even though both teams have people who didn't play in that game.

Vince Wilfork, Brandon Spikes, Jerod Mayo, and Patrick Chung. The strength of the Pats D is up the middle. If these four can perform at a high level, the Flying Elvii D can get off the field. Chung needs to keep the Giants from big game-breaking plays, Wilfork and Spikes need to stop the run, Mayo needs to have a Ray Lewis sideline to sideline type of game, dominating the backs once they break through the line of scrimmage.

Continue to toughen up in the Red Zone. Field goals are better than touchdowns. Turnovers are even better. If the Pats defensive front can force Manning to an errant throw in the red area, the Pats have a better chance of keeping the Giants out of the end zone.

Match up offensive players against the Giants linebackers. Send Kevin Faulk, Aaron Hernandez, or Danny Woodhead into the flats, or go four-wide and drop them into the vacant area in the middle of the field. Screen plays should be a staple of the Pats attack. If Rob Gronkowski is healthy, the favorite seam route will be exploited.

Establish the run. Ben-Jarvis Green Ellis ripping of 5-7 yards a whack will set up the play action pass attack, neutralizing the Giants pass rush, who will have to respect the run. It will also help to control the clock, hereby keeping Manning on the bench.

Tom Brady. Brady won't have a game like he did against the Ravens. He'll bounce back, and the game is in a dome, neutralizing any weather issues. The Giants will not be able to cover everyone, and Brady will find the open guy. He also won't turn the ball over three times again, either.

Bill Belichick. The Hoodie will not be out schemed twice in one year. He'll have something up his sleeve to slow down both the Giants offense and their D line.

Have the ball inside two minutes to go. Manning has put together drives late against the Pats twice, this year and in Super Bowl XLII. He'll no doubt have the confidence to do it again. Best way to avoid that problem, other than being up by more than two scores, is to have the ball at the end of the game.