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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 »

The One NASCAR “Bump” Pocono Couldn’t Smooth Over

The One NASCAR “Bump” Pocono Couldn’t Smooth Over

For Joey Logano, Pocono has now produced three chapters in his list of Sprint Cup memorable moments. But up until Sunday, the problem was the first two could best be described as “reality show-esque.” There was the Spring, 2010 spin-turned-scuffle with the Harvicks, getting Logano’s father banned from the garage with his best “Hatfield-McCoy” impression while the words “who wears the firesuit in the family?” became the trendy catchphrase of the summer. Then, you had last July, “Sliced Bread” speeding to the pole position on the same weekend Carl Edwards officially spurned millions from Joe Gibbs Racing and Home Depot to re-sign with Ford. Read More »

Badly Branded: YouTube Changing NASCAR’s Game For Busch

Badly Branded: YouTube Changing NASCAR’s Game For Busch

There are a lot of people who have been recipients of Kurt Busch’s potty mouth tirades over the past 12 months: Roger Penske, Steve Addington, Bob Pockrass, Dr. Jerry Punch and Jenna Fryer. Missing from that list, though, are three people in particular who could have really been the focal point of Busch’s anger from the start. They may not know this driver from a hole in the wall, but rest assured, if I were in their shoes I’d be booking a trip to Switzerland and getting busy producing a fake ID. Read More »

Taking The Boss For A Ride

Taking The Boss For A Ride

It’s now been a decade since Jimmie Johnson entered the Cup Series with Hendrick Motorsports. At the time, Jeff Gordon was a year removed from his fourth championship, had more wins than any other active driver (58), and seemed on course to perhaps double both numbers. With Johnson wheeling a team co-owned by Gordon himself, and overseen by Rick Hendrick, the school of thought was the apprentice would never overshadow the teacher. Read More »

A Rollercoaster Ride To Redemption

A Rollercoaster Ride To Redemption

Chase? You’d be chasing someone out of the room if they played that type of fortuneteller card two months ago. For a driver who had to wait nearly two years for his slot in the No. 5 car, paired with Hendrick’s Yankee-like expectations, Kahne’s start to 2012 was the nightmare that kept on giving. Whether it was wrecks, mechanical failures, poor pit stops, or awful-handling race cars, the perfect storm of bad was threatening to turn him into one of the bigger free-agent busts in NASCAR history. Check out the first six finishes on paper: 29th, 34th, 19th, 37th, 14th, and 38th. That left Kahne 31st in the standings, but with the top-tier equipment being provided, that might as well have been 71st. Read More »