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Bowles-Eye View

Don’t Let Pocono Rain On Your Parade: Some Sunday Highlights From The Track

Don’t Let Pocono Rain On Your Parade: Some Sunday Highlights From The Track

While Pocono’s 500-miler was pushed back a day, the rain couldn’t do the same to my deadline. So while I’d love to write on the race itself, instead I started this Sunday night staring at a blank page after “start your engines” became “stop those weepers!” That left us with hours upon hours of driver interviews and waiting for a track that, in the end, would never dry with an eerie water problem that’ll leave me dreaming of nightmares from California’s rain-plagued race in February, 2008. But sometimes, in the midst of waiting out the rain you can patiently learn quite a few things about the drivers in the interim. Read More »

Has Indy Lost Its Luster? Three Ways To Bring Drama Back To NASCAR’s Crown Jewels

Has Indy Lost Its Luster? Three Ways To Bring Drama Back To NASCAR’s Crown Jewels

The year was 1994; I was only 13, but the whirlwind of the Brickyard 400 remains as vivid in my mind as if it happened yesterday. From the moment the cars first hit the track for practice, drama was in the air for fans and drivers alike, with everyone putting their best effort into becoming the first name on Indianapolis’ newest racing trophy. An eye-popping 86 cars made official qualifying attempts through two rounds, transforming even the drama of making the field into national news; for, unlike now, NASCAR’s qualifying rules of old gave just a handful of teams guaranteed entry into the race through their small but effective provisional system. That put all drivers on an even playing field, opening the door for open-wheel legends like A.J. Foyt and Danny Sullivan to crack the starting lineup and hope to translate their skill behind a stock car on racing’s biggest stage. Read More »

All But Forgotten, NASCAR’s Mr. Boring Remains The Team To Beat In This Soap Opera

All But Forgotten, NASCAR’s Mr. Boring Remains The Team To Beat In This Soap Opera

It’s hard to believe a sport’s most successful athlete can go through a season all but forgotten. But it’s a feeling Jimmie Johnson knows all too well at this point. Heading into Dover this weekend, Johnson didn’t find himself buried amongst the NASCAR news as of late... he hasn’t even made it to the back pages. In fact, it had gotten to the point where the three-time defending series champ – let’s just pause for dramatic effect here -- wasn’t even in the top 5 biggest stories within Hendrick’s rapidly expanding umbrella. As the engines fired at Dover on Sunday, those could be listed as... Read More »

The Dangers Of Taking A Hendrick Dynasty To The Next Level

The Dangers Of Taking A Hendrick Dynasty To The Next Level

_Dynasty (n.): A group that maintains power for a significant period of time._ In America’s major sports, that word used to cause a sellout automatically -- just mention it and a certain team in the same sentence. The Yankees, Red Wings, Packers, and Celtics have given their stick ‘n’ ball brethren records that may never be broken, earning millions of fans by stomping their competition as if they _were_ fans disguised as professionals. Read More »

Roush’s, Ford’s Rough Start Peaks During Short Track Slump

Roush’s, Ford’s Rough Start Peaks During Short Track Slump

There were three big reasons for three of NASCAR’s “Big Four” owners to smile on Saturday night. Joe Gibbs was busy congratulating Kyle Busch in Victory Lane, his young prodigy scoring a season-leading third win while jumping to fifth in points. Behind him, Hendrick “B” team Stewart-Haas Racing had their owner/driver knocking on the door, putting together a runner-up finish that combined with teammate Ryan Newman’s second top 5 finish in a row. Combine that with Jeff Gordon retaking the point lead, and there was plenty to be happy about over in the Hendrick camp. Last but not least, Saturday night was Jeff Burton’s 2009 coming out party, as he clearly got his act together for owner Richard Childress – finishing third on a night where a midrace spin could have left him 25th. Clearly, it was a night in which NASCAR’s Chase-eligible owners from last season were able to prove how and why they made the playoffs their own personal playground. Of course, that came with one notable exception… Jack Roush. Read More »

Martin’s Rise Leaves Earnhardt Flat On His Face

Martin’s Rise Leaves Earnhardt Flat On His Face

This is a story about two men’s historic rise and fall from grace. As Mark Martin took the checkered flag Saturday night, the desert night lit up with thousands of smiling faces. Sentimentality was in the air again at Phoenix International Raceway, a mere two minutes after a 50-year-old won his first race since ‘05 and two years after Gordon tied the late, great Earnhardt name with his 76th career win. Read More »

Johnson, Martinsville Prove It’s the Drivers That Have Changed — Not The Racing

Johnson, Martinsville Prove It’s the Drivers That Have Changed — Not The Racing

Jimmie Johnson won at Martinsville. Nothing’s changed, right? Wrong. The last two races on the Sprint Cup circuit prior to Sunday had showcased drastic changes to the sport, and none of them have been completely well-received. At Atlanta Motor Speedway, NASCAR’s new race car proved to be a continuing nightmare for tire development, as the majority of drivers in the field spent the day struggling to find grip on a track notorious for being one of the friendliest in terms of offering multiple grooves for drivers to make a fast lap. Said Jeff Gordon of the new car/tire package, “I will challenge any tire manufacturer out there to build a tire for this car at this race track. It’s impossible.” Read More »

Beating And Banging At Its Best: NASCAR’s Five Greatest Bristol Finishes

Beating And Banging At Its Best: NASCAR’s Five Greatest Bristol Finishes

It’s a question us journalists hear all the time – especially after the three-week swing of racing at Fontana, Las Vegas, and Atlanta. If I had to count up all the random emails in my inbox from fans this month, hidden somewhere in between “Why don’t you treat Junior more fairly” and “you suck because of A, B, and C” is a basic complaint about NASCAR’s “cookie cutter” racing facilities, ending with, “Why can’t the sport build more tracks like the one they have in Bristol?” I hear you, guys … I hear you loud and clear. Read More »

Can Jeff Gordon Lead Hendrick Motorsports Again?

In racing, there's that old analogy of "second place is the first loser." And in certain ways Sunday, Jeff Gordon did come up short. As Matt Kenseth celebrated in Victory Lane late into the night at Fontana, Gordon saw his winless streak extended to 42 points-paying events -- tying the worst stretch of his 16-year career. But for Gordon, losing out on the California Oscar couldn't completely erase the momentum of finishing runner-up. Two races in, a second place finish -- combined with a strong Daytona performance derailed only by the weather -- has momentum back in the corner of Team No. 24. And when you're dealing with a man who's won more Cup races in the past 20 years than anyone else, that's not something to be taken lightly by the rest of the competition. Read More »