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Best Of Danny Peters : From Sandstone To Sterling: The Top 10 Trophies In NASCAR

Best Of Danny Peters : From Sandstone To Sterling: The Top 10 Trophies In NASCAR

*The Monster Trophy* I remember when I first saw the Monster trophy, awarded to the winners at Dover International Speedway. It was perhaps the second day I worked in NASCAR, and my immediate thought was that it was some kind of joke-publicity stunt. It couldn’t be a real trophy, could it? Oh, right … it is. Wow. The trophy itself is about 20 inches tall, made of sandstone and it’s, well, an ugly, blocky monster that somehow seems to represent the track just perfectly. One question, though: Does anyone think that the track organizers really have all 43 diecast cars available to slot into the Monster’s hand in Victory Lane? Read More »

Best Of Danny Peters : Why I Don’t Hate The Chase — And You Shouldn’t, Either

Best Of Danny Peters : Why I Don’t Hate The Chase — And You Shouldn’t, Either

Soccer's English Premier League (EPL) runs from mid-August to mid-May. It’s a relentless 38-game, nine month slog with the 20 best teams in the land, in a country that lives, eats, sleeps, and breathes the beautiful game. Each team plays each other once at home and once on the road, with three points earned for each victory, one point for a draw (tie), and nothing for a defeat. With that easy scoring system, the league title is calculated just as simply: the team at the top of the pile -- with the most points after 38 games -- wins it all. Now, there isn’t much English football fans agree on, but one of the most commonly accepted tenets is that, come the end of the season, the league table doesn’t lie. The team that finishes on the top of the pile deserves the accolade, even if they’ve spent the previous 37 games in second place or below. You may not like the way it happens (especially if your team leads all the way and loses it on the last day) but when the final whistle blows on the season the best team always, always wins. Read More »

18 Into 12 Just Doesn’t Go: Handicapping The 2008 Chase Down To The Wire

18 Into 12 Just Doesn’t Go: Handicapping The 2008 Chase Down To The Wire

I never was much good at what us Brits call maths. As soon as the numbers started becoming letters or strange mathematical characters and shapes, I pretty much checked out. But with only seven races left before we reach the Chase cutoff, it’s time to dust off my trusty old calculator and take a look at some important NASCAR-related numbers -- and in particular, the current points standings. With 19 races fully accounted for, the end of the regular season is fast approaching, and it’s fair to say we have a good sample size so far to consider Who’s In and Who’s Out of the field of 12 for the 2008 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Let’s start with the racing certainties. Barring a catastrophic reversal of form (or a refusal to run any of the next seven races) Kyle Busch is all but mathematically locked into the Top 12. Read More »

If NASCAR Drivers Were Movie Stars, Who Would Be On The A-List?

If NASCAR Drivers Were Movie Stars, Who Would Be On The A-List?

With the sultry heat of the summer melting the tarmac of the New York City sidewalks, the ads promoting new movies are out in force. Whether they come from the sides of city buses, giant store display windows that burst out of the glass, or a plethora of ads on any channel you care to watch, the message is hard to miss — summer is the season of the movie blockbuster. I’m not talking nourishing cinematic fare here, either, with exquisitely scripted prose and Oscar potential. I’m talking about the empty-calorie laden goodness of a full-on action movie. You know, the sort of flick where the hero defeats the bad guy, saves the world against innumerable odds, gets the hot girl, and still has time for a ton of pithy quips — all in a nice hour and a half package. For those sorts of summer hits, it’s all about the final box office numbers and that critical opening weekend. And to be the next summertime hit, nothing brings the dollars pouring into the movie house coffers like a top notch A-list star. The bigger the actor or actress, the more popular the movie is likely to be; and the more top names you can put on the poster or in your trailer, the better off you'll be. Read More »

Nuts for Nationwide : Pretenders and Contenders for the 2008 Crown

Nuts for Nationwide : Pretenders and Contenders for the 2008 Crown

With 16 races down and 21 remaining in the Nationwide Series, we have a long way to go. But after two straight maiden victories for two of the most promising young drivers in the sport, there is a lot to like about this year’s Nationwide Series Championship. After a couple of blow out seasons--Harvick won the title at a canter in 2006 as did Edwards in 2007--it looks like 2008 will be much more competitive. The chances are we’ll have a Championship battle that goes right down to the final couple of races, possibly even the last. This can only be good news for NASCAR's second most popular series. So who are the contenders and the pretenders for the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Crown? Who are we likely to be saluting come November? Who has a better than average chance and who are the pretenders – the men who might just pull off a surprise and win it all? Read More »

Sprint Cup Report Cards : Grading the Pack 1/3 Of The Way Through The Season

Sprint Cup Report Cards : Grading the Pack 1/3 Of The Way Through The Season

In the immortal words of one Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you might miss it.” The star of the 1980s silver screen was right: life does move fast - and so does NASCAR. With the checkered flag flying on the Coca-Cola 600, we’re exactly a third of the way through the 2008 season, just fourteen races away from the start of the Chase. So it’s as good a time as any to take a look at the hits and misses of the season so far. Who has driven it like they stole it? Who has run ho-hum, and who has flat out sucked? Find out the answers below, as I hand out awards for the first four months of the season to date: *Best Driver – Kyle Busch* Nine wins in 31 races (three Cup, four Nationwide, two Craftsman Truck Series) and eight Top 5 finishes in 12 Cup starts, while impressive, don't even tell the whole story - Busch has been a factor in virtually every race he’s run. Plus, he’s positively reveling in the pantomime villain role. Read More »

A Talk With Joe Balash On The Nationwide Series’ Past, Present, And Future

As is often the case, it was one conversation that changed Joe Balash’s life. “Just happened to be another one of those phone calls,” he says now, but at the time it was clearly anything but. When that call came, Balash was Senior Vice President of Operations for the now-defunct ASA Series, rising to the top after just four short years of working his way up the ladder. Little did he know the next step would be a _little_ higher. “[NASCAR’s] Gary Nelson asked me to come down and interview,” he explained. “We talked about me working as a Technical Director for the Regional Tours.” Making the move from ASA to the top stock car series in America, Balash and his wife moved from Ohio to North Carolina and began the transition to NASCAR. But 60 days later, another phone call turned his life upside down once again. This time, the call came from NASCAR President Mike Helton, and the words would change this official’s life for good. Was Balash interested in becoming Director of the Busch Series? Read More »

Eight Thoughts After Eight Races

Eight Thoughts After Eight Races

Technically speaking, we'll be at the quarter pole mark following the conclusion of the rollercoaster ride at Talladega this Sunday; but, with a brief pause in the relentless slog that is the Sprint Cup schedule, it's a good time to put out eight thoughts and questions with eight races of the 2008 season in the books. *1. We had a 50th Daytona 500 to be proud of…* It is often the case in sport that the “big” occasion doesn't live up to the pre-event propaganda, but the 50th running of the Great American Race was not one of those instances. Now, it's fair to say this finish wasn't an instant classic; but it was far from a damp squib. Yes, the finish, while undeniably exciting, was not as dramatic or spectacular as 2007, nor did it contain cars crossing the finish line upside down and on fire. But as the lap counter ticked down in the 2008 edition, the tension ratcheted up notch-by-notch in the last 25 circuits. With three laps to go, Tony Stewart looked set to break his Daytona 500 0-fer; but in the end, it was Ryan Newman, courtesy of the an answered prayer in the form of a push from teammate and erstwhile “Smoke” nemesis Kurt Busch, who took the honors in the most prestigious of all NASCAR races. Read More »

Is It Already Bust Rather Than Chase For Juan Pablo Montoya?

Is It Already Bust Rather Than Chase For Juan Pablo Montoya?

Each week, NASCAR.com runs a short article on Juan Pablo Montoya. Entitled "Where's Juan?" it's a gentle look at what's going on in the world of the Bogota, Colombia native. But where, exactly, is Juan these days? After Sunday's 19th place finish, two laps down, it's not a bad question -- because for most of this year, he's been utterly anonymous. In fact, the start of the open-wheel convert's sophomore season has been as bland as his rookie campaign was colorful. Read More »