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Bowles-Eye View

Want To Stop Hendrick? Here’s Five Ways To Do It

Want To Stop Hendrick? Here’s Five Ways To Do It

In his 25th year in Sprint Cup, Rick Hendrick hasn’t just reached the peak of his sport … he’s carving a new mountain upon which all others must climb. With just one week left in 2009, his driver Jimmie Johnson stands poised to win a fourth straight title, with team cars Mark Martin second and Jeff Gordon third in points in what’s poised to be the first 1-2-3 finish by a car owner in NASCAR history. It’s a run of dominance the likes of which the sport hasn’t seen in the modern era, perhaps ever. And here's the scary part (or thrilling, depending on which side of the fence you’re on) -- it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Read More »

Fuel Mileage Finishes Adding Fuel To Fan’s Fire?

Fuel Mileage Finishes Adding Fuel To Fan’s Fire?

While younger brother Kyle flashed some speed, it was older brother Kurt who showed his smarts Sunday at Texas. Leading 232 of the first 332 laps, the younger brother was in position to pull off the first ever “triple sweep” – winning Truck, Nationwide, and Cup shows at the same track in the same weekend – with a car that looked capable of lapping the field at times during the race. But in the end, speed was no match for strategy at Texas during a final 122-lap stint run under green flag conditions. For no matter how fast Kyle went, raw speed was no match for … more fuel. Sound a little weird? It’s meant to. Read More »

Chase Overload Cuts NASCAR Storylines To Pieces

Chase Overload Cuts NASCAR Storylines To Pieces

The thought hung over Denny Hamlin like the Balloon Boy story over America before the hoax made us all want the darned thing to fly away on its own. Fresh off his third career victory – setting a new career high – at one of his two hometown tracks, Hamlin’s post-race celebration Sunday should have left him floating on cloud nine, a well-deserved center of attention for a job well done. But in the matter of a moment, his newsworthy balloon got popped with a reality check as to why anyone should care, a reporter sending a tough reminder that a certain second place finisher still has a very big leg up on the No. 11 where it “really” counts. Read More »

Help Wanted! NASCAR’s Charlotte Buzz Goes Silent

Help Wanted! NASCAR’s Charlotte Buzz Goes Silent

Every sport has a certain time where there’s so much news it practically grows on trees. It’s a journalist’s favorite time of year; one where working overtime is a joy and not a curse, in the midst of sudden scoops and a cell phone that never stops ringing. The winds of change, good or bad, bring debate and discussion that keep the sport as lively off the track as it can be entertaining on it. That’s how the Fall weekend at Lowe’s Motor Speedway usually is for NASCAR. With race shops just a stone’s throw away, the hometown race proves the perfect place to finalize plans, announce new teams, and generate overall buzz for next year. At the halfway point in the Chase, it’s the calm before the championship storm, a “timeout” so to speak where everyone has the chance to breathe long enough to focus on 2010 -- especially now, when the chilly air gets us all thinking of the warmth and beauty of Daytona just around the corner. Add in Wednesday’s landmark announcement of the first five Hall of Fame nominees, and this particular week began the way these weeks often should, a bonus boost with a chance to carry some serious momentum through Saturday night. Read More »

Should Debris Dictate The Outcome Of The Chase? It’s Coming Close

Should Debris Dictate The Outcome Of The Chase? It’s Coming Close

_Race procedure is the manner in which an event is conducted. It includes… flagging ... In addition to interpreting and applying these rules, NASCAR Officials are authorized to make such other determinations or take such other action as they determine to be necessary to promote the best interests of stock car racing, including but not limited to fairness and prompt finality of competition results._ _Section 9-1, NASCAR Rule Book_ Flipping through the rulebook, that’s about as specific a section you’ll get on what can cause a caution flag in this sport. Like all officiating in any form of race, dictating track conditions is tricky business -- especially when a change to the final outcome is at stake. Any caution flag not thrown for a wreck which blocks the racetrack or a raging downpour can lead to serious criticism. Especially when it’s thrown in the final 15 laps of a playoff race. Read More »

Unfair Advantage For The No. 48? Johnson Says Sour Grapes; Others, Not So Sure

Unfair Advantage For The No. 48? Johnson Says Sour Grapes; Others, Not So Sure

To say Jimmie Johnson was in a league of his own Sunday was putting it mildly. Leading the final 224 laps, the outcome of the race was never in doubt for most of Dover’s second half, the No. 48 running as much as two miles an hour faster than the rest of the field. It was a setup that defined dominance in this sport. But it was also one they had a little extra time to perfect. Part of a two-day tire test on August 4th and 5th, the No. 48 was one of eight teams to get a “grip” on the Goodyear tires that were eventually selected for the Fall. Read More »

Montoya AND Mystery Debris? The Perfect Formula For NASCAR To Ruin Martin’s Hollywood Story … Not

Montoya AND Mystery Debris? The Perfect Formula For NASCAR To Ruin Martin’s Hollywood Story … Not

Mark Martin’s been through the pain too many times before. Forgive him, then, for breathing the biggest sigh of relief after somehow surviving round one of NASCAR’s ten-race prizefight known as the Chase to the Championship. For after a picture-perfect race that left him a shoo-in for a season-high fifth victory, it seemed the stars were aligned for a devastating disappointment once again. At first, there was the mystery debris caution with 23 laps to go that took a brilliant pit strategy and left it on the cusp of combustion. As usual per television broadcasts as of late, the debris was never shown to the fans and left to the viewer to “trust” NASCAR was making the right decision. So why did the scanners of several drivers blow up quicker than Kanye West’s career after the MTV Music Awards? Between the lines of the yellow flag chatter ran a general theme amongst the garage: NASCAR couldn’t let this race run to its conclusion without an exciting finish. Read More »

Kyle’s Chase Crumbles Around “Points Racing” … Will He Be Next?

Kyle’s Chase Crumbles Around “Points Racing” … Will He Be Next?

Kyle Busch’s No. 18 pulled into the pits Saturday night… and everyone from fans to first aid held their collective breath. It was five minutes after the checkered flag at Richmond, the last laps of a regular season that ended without his name in lights as a Chase contender. In the end, the difference between in and out could be counted on less then ten fingers; it was the equivalent of two positions on the race track, or one slipup by Brian Vickers as he came to the line ahead of both Sam Hornish, Jr. and Kevin Harvick by a less than half a second. Busch was fifth, but Vickers was seventh, the smallest of margins to get Team Red Bull over the largest hump. For Busch to come that close only to come up short by eight, no one could fathom the disappointment of a man who entered this race last year leading the points. A worst-case scenario like this one would usually end up with someone (or some car) getting shoved out of the way, Busch whining while on a “no comment” sprint to the hauler, or a combination of the above. Everyone in attendance held their breath and expected the worst from a driver living his life embracing the role as NASCAR’s Bad Boy. Read More »

Cousin Carl’s Quest To Salvage A Season

Cousin Carl’s Quest To Salvage A Season

Carl Edwards is having one of those years – and it’s not the warm and fuzzy kind. Now, I say that with all due respect considering the man with an occasional hot streak has handled everything with a wry smile and a “we’ll get ‘em next time attitude” so far this season. But no amount of public pandering can replace the private torment of a man who once entered this year a championship favorite in the Cup Series. Of course, back then why wouldn’t he be the trendy pick most of us media chose? After all, this guy was doing backflips so often last year it should be he, not Jeff Gordon, looking for a trip to the chiropractor each week. With nine wins and 27 top 10 finishes, Edwards came but an ill-timed bump at Talladega from unseating Jimmie Johnson at the Waldorf-Astoria’s head table last December. Read More »

Vickers’ Quiet Confidence Pays Off In Spades

Vickers’ Quiet Confidence Pays Off In Spades

In five plus years at the Cup Series level, Brian Vickers has never shied away from taking chances. But even one of the sport’s biggest risk takers found himself feeling the heat during the final few laps of a sizzling summer day at Michigan. And why wouldn’t he? One simple sputter in the fuel tank is all it would take to make his Chase bid go bust; and with the team trying to stretch their mileage 51 laps, crew chief Ryan Pemberton had the fuel tank running out at 49. Read More »