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Amy Henderson

Many Drivers Looking For a Breakout Year-But My Money’s On Vickers

Many Drivers Looking For a Breakout Year-But My Money’s On Vickers

With Speedweeks in the rearview mirror, there are 35 races ahead, and almost anything can happen. Probably at some point, just about all of it will happen-the good, the bad, and the ugly. The eye of the media is on a pair of young drivers; 18-year-old phenom Joey Logano, known as “Sliced Bread-” as in “the best thing since” and his Rookie of the Year rival, 26-year-old Scott Speed, the toenail polish-wearing Formula 1 defector. There are others under the microscope as well. Three-time defending Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson is trying to win a fourth straight title-something no other driver has done. The pressure is on Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch as the favorites to knock Johnson off the top spot. As always, fans are wondering if Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will ever live up to the over-the-top expectations they have put on him. Who will toss the nay-sayers aside and shine this year? Probably several drivers at one time or another. But there is one driver in particular who I think will have a breakout year. His name isn’t Logano or Speed, or even Busch or Earnhardt. His name is Brian Vickers. Read More »

This Is NASCAR, Not a Bazaar

This Is NASCAR, Not a Bazaar

With Daytona’s convoluted qualifying procedures, it’s easy to overlook things while just trying to figure out how the heck they set the field this year. What is with setting the Duels by owner points and then qualifying speed, anyway? Was it actually necessary? But there is one insidious little thing that has been happening in NASCAR that has become such an elephant in the room that it’s impossible to ignore, even with all of the Daytona hype. One reason that it’s so hard to figure out who’s locked into the race is that these guys are swapping owner points faster than they swap underwear. Read More »

Big Six: Budweiser Shootout

*Who… gets my shout out of the race?* New readers, don't expect to see the race winner here - he already gets a trophy and a check for his effort! Instead, this weekly shoutout goes to a driver who didn't win, but impresses me all the way. This week, only a small bobble and a hard charging Kevin Harvick kept *Jamie McMurray* out of victory lane. McMurray was the strongest of the Roush-Fenway Fords for most of the night, and almost grabbed the win as the field was wrecking in his rearview mirror. McMurray looks to make it as hard as possible for Roush-Fenway to part with him at season's end when the four-team limit takes effect. Read More »

Refocusing on What’s Right In NASCAR

Sometimes being in a position where it’s my job to scrutinize all things NASCAR under a microscope with a fine-toothed comb can skew the reality. Sometimes looking at every angle, every minute piece and part somehow takes away from the whole. And it’s that whole that I find myself desperately wanting to grasp again as the 2009 season is just beginning. Because while the pieces and parts look tainted and broken, the whole machine is still as impossibly, achingly beautiful as it ever was. I never intended to make racing a hobby, let alone a lifetime commitment. Writing was something I always hungered for, and I wanted to write about baseball. But in the late 1990’s, women still weren’t taken seriously in that field. So I gave up that dream for a steady job and the paycheck that went with it. But I never forgot the hunger. Read More »

Best Of Amy Henderson : Ken Schrader: A Lot Like A Rock

Best Of Amy Henderson : Ken Schrader: A Lot Like A Rock

It was very nearly perfect. Stock Car racing returned to the too-long-silent Rockingham (formerly North Carolina) Speedway last week on a picture perfect early summer day. All eyes were on Joey Logano, the rookie phenom who won easily from the pole in his ARCA/Remax Series debut, but it was a veteran who truly epitomized the day-and the track itself. Read More »

Driver Review : Jimmie Johnson

Driver Review : Jimmie Johnson

*Jimmie Johnson* *2008 Ride:* No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet *2008 Primary Sponsor:* Lowe's / Kobalt Tools *2008 Owner:* Rick Hendrick / Jeff Gordon *2008 Crew Chief:* Chad Knaus *Stats:* 36 races, 7 Wins, 15 Top 5s, 22 Top 10s, 1 DNF, 2008 Sprint Cup Champion. *Best Finish:* 1st (Seven times: Phoenix - 2; Indianapolis; Fontana (Fall); Richmond (Fall); Kansas; Martinsville (Fall)) *High Point:* While a 15th-place finish wasn’t what Johnson and his team hoped for at Homestead, it was more than enough to win the 2008 Sprint Cup championship for the third time in a row -- tying Johnson with Cale Yarborough as the only two drivers in NASCAR’s six decades to win three straight. Read More »

Not Yarborough vs. Johnson; Yarborough AND Johnson

Not Yarborough vs. Johnson; Yarborough AND Johnson

Excuses, excuses. Everyone loves a good excuse, and this week, in the wake of Jimmie Johnson’s record-tying third straight Sprint Cup championship, I think I’ve heard them all. There are excuses why Johnson’s accomplishment isn’t as valid as Cale Yarborough’s was when he took three titles in a row in 1976-1978, compared to reasons why it was harder for Johnson to win the title under the Cup series’ current rules and with today’s competition. Over and over again, you hear this kind of "logic," and I use the term loosely, trying to explain away one driver’s accomplishments compared to an earlier or later time in the sport’s history. Well, the time for excuses is over. Read More »

One To Go, Boys-And What A Ride It Has Been

One To Go, Boys-And What A Ride It Has Been

With the white flag in the air on the 2008 NASCAR season, I can safely say there have been some surprises. Looking back over the season that was, as well as ahead to what likely will be when the checkers fly at Homestead, there have been 35 races won and lost, changes of the guard at the top, veterans stepping quietly out of the spotlight while peach-fuzzed fresh faces climb tentatively in, and a constant, thrumming undercurrent of discontent with the new car, the schedule, the drivers, and the quality of a once-great sport in decline. It’s been quite a ride. With that, I’m going to look back at each month of the 2008 NASCAR season, at the stories I touched on and what has changed--or not--since. Read More »