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Why I Don’t Love Plate Racing Anymore and Up Next: The Best Month of the Season

Why I Don’t Love Plate Racing Anymore and Up Next: The Best Month of the Season

Even by Talladega’s “biggest, baddest” standards, that was quite the race weekend in Alabama, wasn’t it, dear readers? Matt Kenseth’s crash in the Nationwide race was violent and scary looking, but it pales into almost insignificance when compared to the carnage the airborne No. 99 Ford Fusion caused on the final lap -- not to mention the double helping of the "Big One" that bookended the 188 laps of mayhem and general disaster. I wasn’t able to watch the race in normal time, so when I finally got home and fired up the DV-R, it was already quite late in the evening. Read More »

50 Is The New 20 For Mark Martin

50 Is The New 20 For Mark Martin

The NASCAR season is brutally long, and with 36 races across ten months, you know that from time to time you’re going to see an absolute stinker of a race. But from the moment I clicked on the broadcast on Saturday night, I just had a feeling it was going to be a fantastic evening -- and so it proved to be. The weather was great, the invocation by Phoenix International Raceway chaplain, Ken Bowers, was crisp and to the point; the anthem was sung with gusto by Kate and Kacey (whoever they might be, I have no clue, but they sure can sing), and the flyover by four F-16s from the 52nd Fighter Squadron from Luke Air Force base was flawless. Read More »

Can Tony Stewart Win A Sprint Cup Title In His First Year As An Owner?

Can Tony Stewart Win A Sprint Cup Title In His First Year As An Owner?

When Tony Stewart signed on the dotted line in July 2008 to assume 50 percent ownership in what was the struggling Haas CNC Racing outfit, there were plenty of people lining up to tell the irascible Columbus, IN native that he was making a colossal mistake. That it was a great deal financially speaking was the one thing that couldn't be argued; Stewart didn’t have to pay so much as one dollar for a half-stake in the two car outfit. But all numbers aside, the real issue was that Haas CNC Racing had hardly set the racing world alight in its first six years of operating. Indeed, a driver who'd spent the last decade defined by stock car success had purchased a team seemingly destined to fail. Read More »

Is Roush Fenway’s Slow Start A Case of Short Track-itis … Or A Sign Of Something Else?

Is Roush Fenway’s Slow Start A Case of Short Track-itis … Or A Sign Of Something Else?

In the euphoria surrounding his rain-shortened victory in the Daytona 500, the self-styled perfectionist Jack Roush must have permitted himself a wry smile. Winning the biggest race of all for the very first time -- after 113 previous Sprint Cup victories in 21 years of ownership -- must have felt like a harbinger of what was to come in 2009. No doubt, Roush thought it was an important first step en route to what he expects will be a third Sprint Cup crown. Sadly, for the “Cat in the Hat,” it hasn’t proved to lean in that direction so far as after six rounds of action, all five of his drivers have, to some extent, underachieved. Read More »

Taking It To The Next Level: Which of These Ten Drivers Will Win a Sprint Cup Championship?

Taking It To The Next Level: Which of These Ten Drivers Will Win a Sprint Cup Championship?

The label of future Sprint Cup champion is liberally dispensed -- but rarely achieved. In the 60 years of NASCAR competition, only 28 drivers have attained the hallowed crown -- and it’s a pretty exclusive club. Twelve drivers have won a solitary championship, while another eight have won two titles. Five men – Jimmie Johnson, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, David Pearson, and Lee Petty – have won three; Jeff Gordon owns four, while both The King and The Intimidator won a record seven apiece. So, it’s fair to say the odds of becoming a Sprint Cup Champion are extremely slim (think, paper thin) and with the Chase format and the increasing number of competitive teams, it’s arguable that it’s harder than ever to win the lot. With that level of complexity in mind, I’m going to pick a number of current drivers and analyze their chances of winning a Sprint Cup Championship at some point in the near (or far) future. Read More »

Who’s #1? Listing The Ten Best NASCAR Tracks In The Cup Series Today

Who’s #1? Listing The Ten Best NASCAR Tracks In The Cup Series Today

After a momentary pause for breath this past weekend, NASCAR plows right into some of the best venues listed on their schedule. In the next two months, the Sprint Cup Series visits eight terrific tracks: Bristol, Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix, Talladega, Richmond, Darlington, and Lowe’s Motor Speedway -- places that hope to get a fan's mind off a rather rough start to 2009. Thinking about some great racing to come, I sent a quick email to the Frontstretch staff last week, asking those who had both the time and inclination to name their five favorite tracks on the circuit. The idea was to use their responses as a straw poll of sorts, proof for a future article on what tracks to watch out for next. But what I didn't expect was the response and genuine excitement I’d get from almost every writer on the site. And so rather than write what, if I’m honest, might well have been a vague, generic column on good tracks for racing, I’ve decided to write up the results of my impromptu survey instead -- Frontstretch's view of the best tracks out there on the Sprint Cup schedule today. Read More »

Catch 21: Thoughts, Questions, and Observations Three Races Into 2009

Catch 21: Thoughts, Questions, and Observations Three Races Into 2009

21, as many of you will know, is a lucky number in Las Vegas. So, here are exactly that many questions, observations, and thoughts - in no particular order - on the season so far as the series leaves Sin City to head back East: *Nothing changes for Casey.* New team, new number, new sponsor, new crew chief, new cool colors – same awful results. Casey Mears’ finishing positions so far this year have been 15th, 24th, and 30th in his No. 07 Jack Daniel's Chevy, good enough for just 27th in Sprint Cup points. In a result-driven business, luck and running well are niceties. Results are what count... and midpack efforts just ain’t going to get it done. Read More »

The Track Too Tough To Watch: How To Change The Boredom At California With One Simple Fix

The Track Too Tough To Watch: How To Change The Boredom At California With One Simple Fix

As you've likely read plenty of places over the past 48 hours, the Auto Club Speedway is a much maligned venue - arguably the least popular of the twenty-two tracks on the Sprint Cup circuit. Interest is sparse, attendance is -- to put it politely -- “not the best,” and in general fans breathe a sigh of relief when the haulers pull out of the West Coast circuit and head for the dubious delights of Sin City. There are many miles to be run and many races to scratch off the slate (thankfully) before we return to Fontana; but like it or not, the Auto Club Speedway is going to matter much more than ever before in 2009. Read More »

2009: A Dream Season … How It Might Happen

2009: A Dream Season … How It Might Happen

*February:* Jeff Gordon puts his 0-for-41 winless streak firmly in the rear-view mirror with a win at the Daytona 500 – his fourth in the biggest race of all. He’s so overcome with emotion that, for the first time in living memory, he screws up the sponsor roll call in Victory Lane. However, Gordon makes up for it by mentioning the omitted sponsor with cheerful relentlessness on the post-race media tour. Smoke finishes a creditable third in his first ride for his new team, while last year’s champion Ryan Newman finishes dead last -- wrecking on just the tenth lap. Read More »

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 »