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Bowles-Eye View

No Normal Day at the NASCAR Office

No Normal Day at the NASCAR Office

Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth: two racing horses of clearly different colors. One loves Indiana and everything in it; the other is obsessed with the Green Bay Packers. “Smoke” will take his temper to your mouth, then buy you a beer; the “quiet champ” of 2003 has the most sarcastic sense of humor nobody ever hears about. One is a self-described bachelor, winning a title on the heels of dumping his girlfriend last September; Kenseth, in contrast, has had two children within the last three years. Until now, they’ve been tied together by nothing more than a helmet throw, an angry Smoke retaliating for some ill-advised contact that knocked both drivers from a chance of winning Bristol in August. In a few days, perhaps an announcement will leave them loosely connected; Kenseth is poised to take over Stewart’s former No. 20 car, the Home Depot Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing starting in 2013. But as Atlanta’s competition failed to break the “bad news” cycle, these men dominate the NASCAR headlines for another reason no one wants to talk about. Read More »

The Bristol Hot Potato

The Bristol Hot Potato

You can say what you want about the competition at Bristol. But Saturday night, a repaved Thunder Valley was a throwback to the great races of years past: unpredictable. From the second the green flag flew, for a pole sitter whose team has start-and-parked in several races (Casey Mears), you had as much of a chance of pegging the winner as predicting the right number on a roulette wheel. Only when the ball landed in Denny Hamlin’s court, tying a Sprint Cup season high with his third 2012 victory, did the race assume some semblance of normalcy down the stretch. Read More »

Seizing A NASCAR Window Of Opportunity

Seizing A NASCAR Window Of Opportunity

Greg Biffle and Rodney Dangerfield have about as much in common as Lindsay Lohan and Barack Obama. One races cars for a living; the other was an actor/comedian. The driver would kill for any type of fan following; Dangerfield spent his career leaving legions of fans laughing. And though Dangerfield died a few years back, Biffle is very much alive and remains in the midst of his NASCAR career. However, the two men remain tied together, if only through one simple phrase... "I don’t get no respect." Read More »

Tragedy Overshadows All For NASCAR At Pocono

Tragedy Overshadows All For NASCAR At Pocono

Lifetime fans of racing are no strangers to tragedy. Safety advancements can only go so far when the goal is to hit a turn at 200 miles an hour; even superstars, driving towards athletic immortality, can only be one broken part from seeing it all stripped away. Dan Wheldon, Dale Earnhardt, Adam Petty… their deaths serve as glass-breaking moments, sobering reminders about how fragile life is for all of us. When fans sit in the stands, they have some faint acceptance that something horrible could happen on-track. The invocation, done every race day, serves as a subconscious reminder that the risk, however slight these days, is always there. Read More »

Best NASCAR Driver Of The Modern Era? Building A Case, Brick By Brick(yard)

Best NASCAR Driver Of The Modern Era? Building A Case, Brick By Brick(yard)

They say he’s too politically correct. They say his team has more money and, therefore, better equipment than anyone else inside the 43-car field. They say his crew chief is a cheater, someone who should have been suspended from NASCAR as recently as this February’s Daytona 500. Heck, this man’s mere presence behind the wheel is blamed for the self-destruction of stock car racing’s popularity. But as Sunday wrapped up, as a group of grown men in Lowe’s firesuits were getting busy kissing bricks on pillows (we’ll skip that for now), it was hard for the critics to argue this point: Jimmie Johnson has prepped a resume that will make him the best driver of NASCAR’s modern era. After putting up the latest bullet point, a fourth Brickyard 400 victory in his last seven starts at Indianapolis, even rivals could do nothing but stand up in awe. Read More »

Life After Loudon: A Sunday That Revealed NASCAR’s Playoff Parity To Come?

Life After Loudon: A Sunday That Revealed NASCAR’s Playoff Parity To Come?

Denny Hamlin gave 110 percent and, on an otherwise snooze-inducing Sunday, NASCAR took notice. In the end, the day’s dominant driver at Loudon came up short, but with 150 laps led, the driver of the Joe Gibbs Toyota made his presence felt amidst a sea of Hendrick Chevrolets attempting to seize control. Second place, in this case, may have been the first loser – Hamlin came up five car lengths short to Kasey Kahne after poor pit strategy left him back in the pack – yet the effort showcased excellence from a driver fully recovered post-2011 Chase hangover. With this year’s playoff looming less than two months away, the second track on the postseason schedule will now have Hamlin listed as a heavy favorite this Fall. Read More »

Drugs, Disaster, and How Racing Dreams Die: AJ’s 2012 NASCAR Nightmare

Drugs, Disaster, and How Racing Dreams Die: AJ’s 2012 NASCAR Nightmare

The name was called – AJ Allmendinger – and in an instant, one life was gifted a dream. No, that winning lotto ticket didn’t come with millions but the man who presented it, Roger Penske, had the perfect consolation prize for a career that seemed to have stalled out forever between “satisfactory” and “should have been.” Every open-wheeler’s childhood idol, an aging owner in desperation mode had turned towards an outgoing Californian to save face, the perfect compromise in the face of a public relations nightmare that gave a pink slip to former Cup Series champion Kurt Busch. Read More »

NASCAR’s Power of Earnhardt: Can Junior Command Attention Now?

NASCAR’s Power of Earnhardt: Can Junior Command Attention Now?

“No,” one of my friends replied. “You think that. But this ‘special day’ is really for everybody else.” Welcome to the world of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. The second the checkered flag flew at Michigan, more than four years to the day he last visited Victory Lane, the driver breathed a sigh of relief that the king of all gorillas (we haven’t seen one this big since his Daddy’s Daytona 500 failures) got thrown off his back. It’s been well-documented by even the most casual garage observer how much the drought ate at Earnhardt, an introvert by nature, deep inside the competitive fire always raged. Certainly, after enduring years of criticism that a name, rather than talent, keeps him part of the most powerful team in motorsports Sunday’s dominant victory produces its own form of self-redemption. Read More »

Speeding Into Conflict: Drivers, NASCAR At Odds Over Pit Road Penalties

Speeding Into Conflict: Drivers, NASCAR At Odds Over Pit Road Penalties

It's a common occurrence to have a few pit road speeding penalties over the course of a NASCAR Sprint Cup event. Last weekend, at the Monster Mile there were two over the course of 400 laps. But this Sunday, Pocono added the wrong kind of "double trouble" to that number. The pit road police were out in full force, growing to a whopping 22 penalties over the course of just 160 circuits as everyone from five-time champ Jimmie Johnson to one-race fill-in David Reutimann got busted. The record number of infractions, 18 of which occurred in the race's first half had the radios buzzing with confusion and concern. Read More »