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Sunday, May 31, 2015

NASCAR at the Halfway Mark

The NASCAR circuit wrapped up festivities in Dover, DE this weekend and is heading north to Pocono, PA.  As NASCAR continues its northern swing, it is time to check in on NASCAR at the halfway mark.

The NASCAR season consists of 26 regular season races followed by a 10 race Chase for the Sprint Cup.  Sixteen drivers qualify for the Chase.  There are some nuances to the qualification rules, but the basic idea is that any driver who wins a regular season race will qualify for the Chase.  If fewer than 16 drivers win a race, then the remaining Chase slots are filled based on points earned throughout the season.  If more than 16 drivers win a race then the slots are determined amongst those drivers based on the number of wins.  Ties amongst winners will broken based on points.

Preseason Points:  Banshee Sports was a little slow on the draw and didn't post a preview column until after the spectacle of the Daytona 500.  The Stewart-Haas team continues to be messy but has secured one Chase spot with Kurt Busch's win at Richmond in April.  Joe Gibbs Racing had a lot of shakeups during the off-season, but they are primed to get all 4 teams into the Chase if Kyle Busch can win a race in the second half of the season.  Dale Jr.'s win at Talladega combined with his 7 top 5 finishes have him in strong position for a run at the title..  Banshee Sports' preseason dark horses are still in the dark but have been knocking on the door of victory lane.

Martin Truex, Jr.
What We've Seen So Far:  Thirteen races are in the books.  At the halfway point of the season, 9 different drivers have already won a race.  In 2014, 10 different drivers had posted a win by the halfway point, and only 13 total drivers earned a win by the end of the regular season.  So, there is no reason to believe that there will be more than 16 different winners by the end of the season.  The list of drivers who have won a race includes all the usual suspects.  Jimmie Johnson and defending champion Kevin Harvick have both won multiple races.  Martin Truex, Jr. has notched 11 top 10 finishes and has accumulated the second most points, but he has yet to get into win a race.  In his final season, Jeff Gordon has also put together a lot of solid finishes without visiting victory lane.  Due to injury keeping him out of the first 11 races of the year, Kyle Busch is miles back in the points standings and will absolutely need a win to qualify for the Chase.

Second Half Predictions:  Out of the 13 races remaining in the regular season, 2 of those are road courses and one is the July restrictor plate race at Daytona.  Those 3 races often provide surprise winners.  Last season, Aric Almirola and A.J. Almendinger both qualified for the Chase by getting victories in these races despite both drivers being well off the pace in terms of points performance.
Of the big names on the outside looking, Jeff Gordon has an excellent chance to qualify for the Chase at one of the road races.  Since Kyle Busch's injuries make it impossible for him to qualify on points, Wild Thing will be running every race like it's checkers or wreckers.  With Kyle's talent and JGR's equipment, look for Busch to win a race and qualify for the Chase.  Martin Truex, Jr. has been great all season long.  Sooner or later, he is bound to end up in victory lane.  Even if Truex fails to win a race, his consistency will likely earn him a Chase spot based on points.

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Cooking with Banshee: Rum Runner

Memorial Day weekend ushers in the unofficial start of summer.  There is swimming and grilling.  Burgers and desserts.  And, of course, refreshing summer drinks.  There is no better summer drink recipe than a rum drink recipe.  This Rum Runner is a traditional favorite.

Rum Runner (makes 2)

2 oz white rum
2 oz dark rum
1 oz lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
1 1/3 cup pineapple juice

Put ice in a cocktail shaker.  Add all the ingredients and shake it up.  Fill festive glasses with ice.  Pour and enjoy!

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Not Dead Yet

Banshee Sports has been pretty quiet this spring.  Not because there was nothing to talk about.  There have been a lot of exciting things going on in the world of sports since I drifted out of the public eye.  Baseball season started.  American Pharoah won the first two legs of the Triple Crown.  The NBA and NHL playoffs progressed through several rounds.  Mayweather fought Pacquiao in the Fight of the Century.  And there was nary a word about any of it from the Banshee.  Don't worry, though.  I'm not dead, yet.

I usually leave personal stuff off this site.  I have been committed to the idea that Banshee Sports is a sports blog, not a running commentary on my life.

However, in the spring of of 2013, my cousin Jessica Smartt and I attended Bloggy Bootcamp in Charlotte, NC.  At that conference, the SITS girls taught us that people don't spend time at a website because it has the most interesting ideas in the world.  They spend time at a website because they like spending time with the author.  That means the author has to allow the audience to know them.

So, at the urging of my cousin, I'm returning to blogging with a little life update to explain my absence.

First of all, rest assured that nothing bad has happened to me.  I'm alive and healthy.

Wild Banshee at work
But, I am a prosecutor for a living.  That means that the quality of my life is greatly influenced by the the violent deeds of other people and a calendar I cannot control.  It also means that I work in a profession where the winds of political change can stir up a lot of commotion even amongst lower-level folks like me.  All of those factors came together this spring.  I did some good work, I failed at a few things, and I treaded some water.

It's not that work made me lose interest in sports, but it did make me lose interest in staying awake long enough after work to write about them.  The time I did spend on online projects, I dedicated mostly to getting a second website, History is for Girls, off the ground.

I have now passed through the court calendar gauntlet.  For better or worse, the local political wrangling has ended with me staying in the same place I started.  And H4G is getting some momentum.  So, it's time for me to get back in action here at Banshee Sports.  I plan to maintain my monthly Cooking with Banshee posts.  The seasonal Temper Temper columns will continue.  I also have some long-term projects in the works.  Thoughtful pieces about topics that require some actual thought.

Thank you all for your patience.  And I hope we will have some fun together for the rest of 2015.  After all, sports are great!

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