Wednesday , March 4 2015
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Amy Henderson

Time to Put This Bud on Ice

Time to Put This Bud on Ice

On Saturday night, NASCAR will roar back onto the landscape with the Budweiser Shootout. The race is an exclusive, members-only affair, with only pole winners from the previous season and previous winners on the guest list. Budweiser sponsored the pole award for years, and along with the honor of top starting spot for a race came entry into the short, money-or-nothing Shootout each spring. Now, with Coors taking over as top beer sponsor, the future of the race is questionable. And you know what? It's a race whose time is past. Sure, it's an entertaining way to get the kinks out after a long off-season. Because there are no points on the line, drivers tend not to be as careful with their equipment, and that can lead to exciting racing. It is certainly the norm in professional sports to have exhibition games before the regular season starts. But NASCAR isn't a stick and ball sport. Read More »

The Best Of The Frontstretch : Two Little Brothers, Public Mourning, and a Kid Named Junior-Victory Lane Revisited

"Well, the (fill in sponsor/manufacturer/ model here) ran great today. My super, amazing crew chief made some great calls and the guys did a great job on pit stops that got us to the front. I'd also like to thank (insert ten other sponsors here), my Mom, and all my fans!" How many times a year have you heard this speech in Victory Lane and shaken your head at how scripted it is? I'd have to say, in the average Cup season…about 36. The reason Victory Lane sounds and looks scripted is because it IS. And for good reason: there are a lot of people who pay a lot of money or supply a lot of equipment who expect a return on that: photos of the team wearing their hat, gathered around the trophy and a thanks on national TV to impress their corporate clients. NASCAR wants the publicity photos of driver and crew hosing each other with champagne. The team owner wants his own photos. The ceremony takes forever; the five minutes you see on TV can stretch to a half hour or more while all the sponsors get taken care of. While everyone is complaining about Joe Driver not being spontaneous enough, I always figure, the poor guy is saying what he's paid to say. He's just spent four hours in that car and he'd probably like a cold Gatorade, a trip to the restroom, and a couple of aspirin about now, so you can't really blame him if it comes out boring and scripted. Read More »

The Best Of The Frontstretch : White Flag: Junior’s Last Lap at DEI

It seems like a lifetime ago, and in a way, it was. It's hard to believe that it's been almost a decade since Dale Earnhardt, Jr. came onto the scene as a then Winston Cup rookie with a heck of a name to live up to. He was a likeable young kid who liked to party and have a good time and race on Sunday. He didn't seem to be in any hurry to grow up, and that was okay. He was determined to be his own person, free of the shadow of his father, a seven-time Cup champion and a racing legend. But Dale Earnhardt cast a long shadow, and his death in February 2001 forced Junior to grow up overnight. Driving for the organization his father built for him, Earnhardt, Jr. proved his prowess on the racetrack with seventeen wins to date. After his father's death, Junior wanted to uphold the reputation of Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated on the track and was successful, as were teammates Steve Park and Michael Waltrip. Everything was turning up roses, and there was no reason to believe that the Earnhardt name on the sign outside wouldn't be carried on inside the shop as well for years to come, with Junior racing the red No. 8 for as long as he wanted to race at NASCAR's top level. Read More »

NASCAR Has 21 Reasons to Up Minimum Age

Word on the street is that NASCAR is toying with the idea of changing the minimum age for racing in the Sprint Cup Series from 18 to 21. Already there has been a negative reactions from race fans as it impacts a few teams' development drivers, namely Joe Gibbs Racing's phenom Joey Logano. Logano, 17, would not be eligible to race in the Cup series until mid-2011, a year and a half behind schedule, and the rule would throw a speedbump at Rookie of the Year honors as Logano would not be able to compete until after his birthday, May 24. Race fans have flooded message boards with reasons why this is a terrible idea. They cite everything from drivers beginning racing at a younger age to the "it's just a way to stick it to teams" excuse. Frankly, I just don't get their reaction. Read More »

Warning: This Is Only A Test

Warning: This Is Only A Test

Winter is a stark time, indeed, on the NASCAR landscape; although as a recent transplant to beautiful Mooresville, North Carolina, I must say the weather is pleasant compared to my home state of New Hampshire - to say the least. But in terms of racing, the winter season can be a long, barren time with little to get fans' motors running - or even started in the first place. Sure, there are the cute little tidbits about Junior's trip to Australia, who is doing what for the holidays, etc.; but let's face it, these news stories are like giving you the oyster crackers but not the soup. They're nice and crunchy, but carry no substance (did I write that about California Speedway once)? As the offseason hits full swing, fans' desire to hear engines roar hits a fever pitch; they yearn for speed over sound bites once again. Then after the New Year, along comes Daytona testing, and like the proverbial light at the end of our tunnel (vision), there is racing to talk about. Read More »

Driver Review: Kenny Wallace

Driver Review: Kenny Wallace

*2007 Rides*: No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet (Feb.-Aug.) No. 45 Petty Enterprises Dodge (Bristol, August) No. 88 Robert Yates Racing Ford (September) *2007 Primary Sponsor*: Furniture Row (No. 78) Wells Fargo (No. 45) Snickers (No. 88) *2007 Owners*: Barney Visser (No. 78) Richard Petty (No. 45) Robert Yates (No. 88) *2007 Crew Chief*: Jay Guy (No. 78) Billy Wilburn (No. 45) Cully Barraclough (No. 88) *Stats*: 15 races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 0 Top 10s, 46th in points. *Average Finish*: 30.9. *Best Finish*: 21st - Bristol, March. *High Point*: Several drivers waited with baited breath after the Nextel Open to find out who would win the coveted fan vote and transfer into the Nextel All-Star Challenge. However, the hopes of many other would-be contenders were dashed when the NASCAR directive came over the radio: send the No. 78 Furniture Row car to tech inspection. Read More »

2007 Driver Review: Jeff Gordon

*2007 Ride:* No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet *2007 Primary Sponsor:* DuPont Automotive Finishes *2007 Owner:* Rick Hendrick *2007 Crew Chief:* Steve Letarte *2007 Stats:* 6 wins, 21 Top 5 finishes, 30 Top 10 finishes, 7 poles. *High Point:* It's hard to pick just one high point in a season where you win six races, lead the point standings for 21 straight weeks and 26 overall, and set a modern-era record for Top 10 finishes. Oh, and welcomed your first child into the world on the side. Jeff Gordon put up remarkable numbers all year. He averaged a fifth-place finish in the ten-race Chase for the Nextel Cup. And he finished second in points. Read More »

Imagine if the NASCAR Banquet Was Actually Fun?

The NASCAR banquet is the event of the night. The Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf-Astoria will be transformed into the stage on which the champion will graciously accept his accolades (and a really big check). Everybody will be turned out in his finest with a lovely wife/mother/significant other on his arm. It's NASCAR's chance to shine in a world far removed from the garages and the roar of the engines. It's glitter and finery. And it's really, really boring. Jeff Gordon made some comments this week about NASCAR and the sponsors curbing the drivers' personalities. He commented that the fans are not always treated to the best side of the drivers, because they get so they're afraid to show it. And he's right. Back in the old days, drivers were allowed to be more real, have a little more fun, be looser. Read More »

White Flag: Junior’s Last Lap at DEI

It seems like a lifetime ago, and in a way, it was. It's hard to believe that it's been almost a decade since Dale Earnhardt, Jr. came onto the scene as a then Winston Cup rookie with a heck of a name to live up to. He was a likeable young kid who liked to party and have a good time and race on Sunday. He didn't seem to be in any hurry to grow up, and that was okay. He was determined to be his own person, free of the shadow of his father, a seven-time Cup champion and a racing legend. But Dale Earnhardt cast a long shadow, and his death in February 2001 forced Junior to grow up overnight. Driving for the organization his father built for him, Earnhardt, Jr. proved his prowess on the racetrack with seventeen wins to date. After his father's death, Junior wanted to uphold the reputation of Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated on the track and was successful, as were teammates Steve Park and Michael Waltrip. Everything was turning up roses, and there was no reason to believe that the Earnhardt name on the sign outside wouldn't be carried on inside the shop as well for years to come, with Junior racing the red No. 8 for as long as he wanted to race at NASCAR's top level. Read More »