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Five Points to Ponder: Pole Conspiracies, Smoke Rising and the Great American Race

Five Points to Ponder: Pole Conspiracies, Smoke Rising and the Great American Race

ONE: And We’re Back The NASCAR offseason is just about the shortest in all of professional sports. So why does it always feel like ages between the checkered flag at Homestead-Miami Speedway and the start of Daytona Speedweeks? I’ll leave that answer to those more qualified in the study of neurosciences in the human brain, but I for one was itching for some on-track action after what was for much of the country a bitter, frigid winter. Unlike in years ... Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Firsts, Families And Failing Pit Crews

Five Points to Ponder: Firsts, Families And Failing Pit Crews

What a weekend it was for Regan Smith who not only won the Aaron's 312 at Talladega with a thrilling last ditch push, but also established a 27-point lead in the battle for the Nationwide Series crown; the first time in his career he has led the standings. Smith was in seventh place coming to the white flag before a push from Kasey Kahne made all the difference. "Coming down the backstretch I thought, ‘Ah, we’re going to take fifth or sixth.’ I thought that’s the way it was going to go. I can’t even tell you the order of the guys who were leading,” said Smith. “I just saw cars at that point. They got all jammed up, we had a run and I made a move. I wasn’t really sure if I was clear, but I figured it was the only chance I had to win the race. I wanted to make that move to see if it was going to pay off for us, and it did." Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Politics Surrounding Short Tracks, Injuries, And Jeff Burton

Five Points to Ponder: Politics Surrounding Short Tracks, Injuries, And Jeff Burton

*ONE: Build More Short Tracks* A lot of what you read on Twitter is not much more than garbage, but there was one tweet late Saturday night from USA Today NASCAR beat writer Jeff Gluck that really hit the mark. “The longer I’m around this sport, the more I’m convinced additional short tracks would be the solution to many of NASCAR’s problems,” "tweeted Gluck.":https://twitter.com/jeff_gluck/status/328595945480654848 Read More »

IndyCar Preview: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

*What’s News?* It’s race number three of a 16-race schedule this weekend on the historic street course of Long Beach, CA. After a couple of races (St Pete’s and Barber) to kick off the 2012 season, the teams and drivers are gradually getting used to the new car, new chassis, new body and new engine. This process has not been without its hitches as perhaps evidenced by the fact that all eleven Chevy engines were replaced prior to the first practice; thanks, in part, to an issue discovered with James Hinchcliffe’s engine at a test at Infineon earlier this week. The resultant 10 position penalty levied for each of the Chevy drivers should give the starting grid a different look this weekend. "We are still learning the limitations of the new engine controls calibration," said Chris Berube, Chevrolet Racing's IZOD IndyCar Series program manager. "Through our testing in Sonoma, as indicated by an engine issue, we uncovered a problem that we believe could affect all engines. So, as a result, we feel it is prudent to change all engines prior to the start of the on-track activities this weekend." Read More »

IndyCar Preview: Barber Motorsports Park

IndyCar Preview: Barber Motorsports Park

The Barber Motorsports Park is a sprawling 740-acre, multi-purpose permanent racing facility in Birmingham, Alabama. It’s a 17-turn, 2.38 mile long road course and the home for the second year in a row to the second race of the season for the IndyCar Series. In 2010, the inaugural event was the third race of the year. The sample size at Barber Motorsports Park is necessarily small, and made smaller by the fact that this year we have new cars, new engines and a brand new chassis. But for the record, the first race in 2010 was won by Helio Castroneves, while Will Power lead flag-to-flag for a dominant victory in last year’s race. Read More »

IndyCar Preview: Season Opener on the Streets of St. Petersburg

IndyCar Preview: Season Opener on the Streets of St. Petersburg

*Dan Wheldon:* It’s impossible to start any kind of INDYCAR season preview without mentioning Dan Wheldon not least with the race this weekend in his adopted hometown. It is still hard to believe he is not with us. May he rest in peace and may God bless his wife and two small sons. *This Weekend:* This Sunday afternoon on the 14-turn 1.8-mile temporary street course of St Petersburg, FL the 2012 INDYCAR Series season will kick off a six month, 16-race schedule which includes stops in Canada, Brazil and, for the first time in series history, Qingdao, China. Read More »

Fan’s View: Mark Martin: Last Chance Saloon for a Championship Challenge

Saturday night was, to put it kindly, a bad night for Mark Martin. After running upfront for much of the race, Martin misjudged a pass, clipped another car and slid hard into the inside wall. The damage saw Martin finish a lowly 38th, some 137 laps down to race winner Brad Keselowski. The poor finish saw the driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet slip a further three points in the standings to 19th, some 77 points out of ... Read More »

Nine Drivers (Who Don’t Race for Hendrick) To Watch In 2010

Nine Drivers (Who Don’t Race for Hendrick) To Watch In 2010

I want to start out in this, the final Yellow Stripe of 2009, by recognizing the efforts of Jimmie Johnson. Even if your personal flavor preference is not vanilla, any true fan of our great sport should recognize the level of achievement for the entire No. 48 team: a worthy champion, no question. All told, it was a tremendous season for Hendrick Motorsports and its JV partner Stewart Haas Racing, so as thoughts slowly start to turn to 2010, I’m going to take a look at ten non-Hendrick drivers to watch next year. And being a foreigner, it seems only appropriate that I start with the two full-time Sprint Cup drivers born overseas. Read More »

Is Jeff Gordon’s Drive For Five Permanently Stalled?

Is Jeff Gordon’s Drive For Five Permanently Stalled?

The whimsical 1986 movie "Short Circuit," starring those giants of the big screen, Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg, is a story about the mad cap adventures of an artificially intelligent robot named “Number Five.” The premise of the tale sees the U.S. Military designed and owned robot brought to “life” by a freak power surge. It’s a heartwarming, if somewhat flippant tale, and those fans of the movie will certainly remember the robot at one point screaming to Ally Sheedy’s character that “Number Five is Alive!” Relating this back to NASCAR and yeah, I bet you were wondering if I was actually going to get there, in the case of one Jeffrey Michael Gordon from Vallejo, CA, number five is _not_ very much alive. Read More »

Can Mark Martin Do The Unthinkable And Prevent The 4-Peat?

Can Mark Martin Do The Unthinkable And Prevent The 4-Peat?

It was over. Done and dusted. The fat lady was halfway through her last aria; the trophy had been all but etched and the historians were in the process of re-writing the NASCAR history books. Fans were switching off in droves and thoughts, for many, were turning to Daytona in February 2010. Exiting Talladega, Jimmie Johnson the 3-time champ had a prohibitive 184-point lead after a hugely fortuitous 6th place finish with just three races left to go in the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Read More »