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Bowles-Eye View

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 »

Reutimann Proving Old Guys And Big Dreams Can Still Come Together In Cup

Reutimann Proving Old Guys And Big Dreams Can Still Come Together In Cup

Three races in, the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings read like a who’s who of stock car racing. Four-time champ Jeff Gordon leads the pack, followed by reigning Nationwide King Clint Bowyer, Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth, fellow Roush Fenway superstar Greg Biffle, and … David Reutimann? Nope, that’s not a misprint, folks. 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 »

Five Feel Good Stories Giving The Great American Race An Unexpected Boost

Five Feel Good Stories Giving The Great American Race An Unexpected Boost

Heading into Speedweeks, Martin Truex, Jr.’s No. 1 on the side of his Chevy was synonymous with the one piece left alone from a desperation merger. Now, that “1” stands for something far more exciting -- Daytona 500 pole sitter -- closing out a weekend that’s given hope to people looking for some different faces up front next Sunday. “The guys felt good about this all winter,” Truex said after pulling what had to be labeled a minor upset. “They’ve felt like they’ve had a shot at coming down here and sitting on the front row for the 500. I’m just the lucky guy who gets to sit in that seat and drive that thing.” Read More »

Hoping For Some NASCAR Give And Take In 2009

Dear NASCAR Faithful, The offseason is over, and I can’t wait! What a refreshing change from the past few years; it’s amazing what a couple of weeks off not having to cover test after test in December and January will do for your tired soul. After a disappointing year, the worst thing to happen when the racing doesn’t match the hype is to have it hammered into your head day in, day out. And while some fans still complain about your precipitous decline the past few years … I know there’s a lot more who actually started to miss you for the first time in recent memory. Read More »

Why We Were Robbed Of The REAL Championship Chase

Why We Were Robbed Of The REAL Championship Chase

Come with me on a journey into the battle that could have been. Once upon a time, the laps are winding down at Homestead; and while you might not like a fuel mileage finish, for once, you’re sitting there on the edge of your seat. Carl Edwards has made the daring gamble to go the final 66 laps on a tank of gas, canceling out the brilliant strategy of Jimmie Johnson and a two tire stop that finally got him the track position needed to run up front. Now, Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus are staring at a terrifying dilemma; they know their car isn’t capable of going the distance on fuel. Knowing a win by the No. 99 will likely cost them the title, Knaus doesn’t know which direction to turn. Should he hope against hope his numbers are wrong, leave Johnson out, and hope he can save a little extra Sunoco? Or, should he send him out on a banzai effort to gain as many positions as possible, putting distance between the No. 48 and Edwards before shortpitting for fresh tires with 20 laps to go – a desperation maneuver in hopes new Goodyears can gain enough positions in time to save the championship? Read More »

Out With The Old, In With The Who?

Out With The Old, In With The Who?

For so many millions of us, favorite athletes become so much more. Role models for our kids, our communities, ourselves; they’re put on a pedestal of success we can only wish to achieve. Through them, we choose to live our wildest dreams, placed in a fantasy world in which a larger-than-life persona can show us the joys of perfection. Every once in awhile, we get lucky in love, and the dream never dies. Our idols leave the sport we love at the top of their game, and we’re allowed to remember the end just the way we want it – like a fairy tale. But more often, the bubble bursts and we find out the truth – that these drivers we worship are human, too, unable to fend off the inevitability of age and time. And that makes it so much harder when you see their careers come crashing down. Read More »