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Bowles-Eye View

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 »

If The NFL Loses Its Pro Bowl, Can NASCAR Lose Its All-Star Event?

When it comes to putting athletes on a pedestal, Americans have that psychological obsession down pat. Extraordinary talent like Kobe Bryant, Aaron Rodgers, and Tony Stewart get rich by having their careers supported by people willing to watch them at any price, building normal lives around acknowledging their on-the-field accomplishments. But what we’re learning about the current generation of sports fans is that loyalty comes with expectations. Time is precious, in this age of 1,000 different entertainment options, and it’s easy to spot a superstar giving less than 100 percent. It’s like a reminder of that Monday morning conference call, with your boss speaking in a monotone voice you’re probably trying to ignore by reading this column. Why bother paying attention when even the athletes themselves are just going through the motions? Read More »

200 Wins, A King And A Corporation: NASCAR Then And Now

200 Wins, A King And A Corporation: NASCAR Then And Now

Saturday night at Darlington was defined by history, a milestone 200th victory for NASCAR’s most successful modern-era car owner, Rick Hendrick. It was a long time coming, a sixteen-race drought in contrast with the New York Yankees-like efficiency of the organization: five straight championships, from 2006-10 and employer of the sport’s two winningest active drivers. But as the lights dimmed, The Lady In Black fading into the night last Saturday, “the chase” over for a business pursuing a historic number one couldn’t help but remember the date that truly defined it: 27 years, ten months, and eight days since 200 was actually made to mean something within the walls of NASCAR competition. Read More »

Three Years, One NASCAR Superstar: A Winning Formula?

Three Years, One NASCAR Superstar: A Winning Formula?

Three years. For most people, that seems like nothing – just ask couples in long-term, successful marriages - but in NASCAR terms, history has shown us it’s all you need to prove yourself. Three years into his Cup Series career, Jeff Gordon captured his first title. Dale Earnhardt? Three years was too much: he won one in his _second_ full-time season. They head a list of top-level nominees that include Jeff Burton, Ernie Irvan and Bobby Labonte, drivers who could point to that timespan as when their careers started skyrocketing from zero to hero. Will Brad Keselowski be next on that list? Read More »

Three Strikes And You Light A Busch On Fire

Three Strikes And You Light A Busch On Fire

Four Spring races at Richmond, four straight Kyle Busch victories. To have that type of record on your resume, Lady Luck needs to be hired as at least a part-time consultant. Or how about full-time employee? We saw her working overtime Saturday night, taking control for Busch at a Richmond racetrack that had another weird ending added to its resume. Remember last Fall, when Paul Menard’s late-race spin set up a suspicious finish where teammate Kevin Harvick blew by Jeff Gordon? Or how about the Spring of 2008, when Denny Hamlin led a record-setting 381 laps only to blow a tire, setting up the infamous Kyle Busch spin of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. which opened the door for Clint Bowyer to triumph? Read More »

NASCAR Role Reversal: Pocono’s Promise Versus Bristol’s… What, Exactly?

NASCAR Role Reversal: Pocono’s Promise Versus Bristol’s… What, Exactly?

_"Compromise is but the sacrifice of one right or good in the hope of retaining another – too often ending in the loss of both."_ - Tryon Edwards Through his years of involvement in motorsports, the decisions of O. Bruton Smith can often be described in one word: “brash.” After all, billionaires don’t make their fortunes by sitting still and playing tiddlywinks while the rest of the world passes them by. Bold moves can often create unprecedented cash flow, aggression with a purpose resulting in the type of Racetrack Empire that’s allowed this Southerner to control a third of the 36-race Sprint Cup schedule each year. To get what he wants, this man has stood up to an entire city (Charlotte), shut down a legendary short track (North Wilkesboro) and even had the guts to go toe-to-toe with NASCAR royalty: the Frances. Read More »

Losing At Kansas Still a Small Win for Truex, MWR

Losing At Kansas Still a Small Win for Truex, MWR

You can’t win ‘em all, but that doesn’t make a tough loss any easier. Martin Truex Jr. dominated yesterday’s race at Kansas Speedway, leading 173 of the 267 laps, only to have a bad set of tires cost him the race. It wasn’t for a lack of effort, however. Truex did everything he could in the closing laps to catch and pass Hamlin, almost wrecking himself in the process. It wasn’t to be, and Truex exited the car exhausted and clearly frustrated while Hamlin headed to Victory Lane. While the disappointment was understandable in terms of the domination, the race was more of a win for Truex and team Michael Waltrip Racing than a loss. For Truex alone, it’s an improvement over last year. After eight races in 2011, Truex had only one top 10 and was sitting 19th in points. Now through eight races this season, Truex has 6 top 10s, three of which were top 5s, and the near win at Kansas Speedway put him up to second in points, just 15 markers out of the top spot. Read More »