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Did You Notice?

Did You Notice? … A Wide Open Race, Ownership Issues And A Newcomer’s Impact

Did You Notice? … A Wide Open Race, Ownership Issues And A Newcomer’s Impact

*Did You Notice?...* In the midst of Danica-mania, the most important point to be made about this year’s Daytona 500 is that there is no absolute favorite? Entering Speedweeks, I thought Hendrick Motorsports was poised to dominate; to an extent, they’ve flexed some muscle by putting five of their engines within the top six (only Trevor Bayne, third-quickest in the Wood Brothers Ford broke them up.) But Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited showcased some cracks in the armor. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s engine ran sour during the final segment, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon were swept up in an early wreck, and Kasey Kahne, not known as a plate specialist, was underwhelming at best. (Maybe he was focused on the half-marathon instead?) Read More »

Did You Notice? … Young Guns, V-Day Heartbreakers And NASCAR Quick Hits

Did You Notice? … Young Guns, V-Day Heartbreakers And NASCAR Quick Hits

*Did You Notice?...* The influx of young talent entering prime rides in 2013? The Frontstretch Staff "discussed this one":http://www.frontstretch.com/tbowles/42294/ in the sixth and final part of our season preview but, instead of answering there I wanted to expand on the topic elsewhere. For me, it's a copout because I have a hard time cutting down the drivers I'm watching to just one or two... So, without further ado, here's who you should put on the radar screen... Read More »

Did You Notice? … Start-And-Park War Brewing?, Aerodynamic Engineering & NASCAR Quick Hits

Did You Notice? … Start-And-Park War Brewing?, Aerodynamic Engineering & NASCAR Quick Hits

*Did You Notice?...* The battle over start-and-parking is revving up for 2013? The first salvo was fired at the end of January, where Bruton Smith went so far on the Media Tour as to ask reporters in attendance to stop the practice, where cars come to the track, park and collect the prize money for profit. “Start-and-park should not be a part of what we do,” said the Speedway Motorsports, Inc. owner, whose tracks, he claimed, "donated" tens of millions of dollars to "this cause" in 2012. “Either NASCAR should shorten the race or something in order to stop this, but I think it's got to be stopped.” "I hope we look back in a year and (start-and-park) is history. Because it should be history." Read More »

Did You Notice? … Awesome Bill’s NASCAR Family Dream, Family Fraud And Quick Hits

Did You Notice? … Awesome Bill’s NASCAR Family Dream, Family Fraud And Quick Hits

*Did You Notice?* … How difficult it is for some drivers to hang it up for good? Bill Elliott is the latest example of that, a certain Hall of Famer hanging on nearly a decade after full-time retirement. Back then, it was nearly a Cinderella story for Awesome Bill, the 1988 Cup Series champion who’s best known for capturing the 1985 Winston Million: a reward for capturing three of NASCAR’s “crown jewel” events (Daytona, Talladega, Darlington) in the same season. 48 years old when the “R” word first beckoned, he’d won every major event in the sport and came within a lap of winning the 2003 season finale at Homestead before blowing a tire on the final lap. Walking away in his prime, the dream most superstar athletes rarely achieve was firmly within reach. Read More »

Did You Notice? … NASCAR’s Sponsor Search, Martin’s “Retirement?” And Shocking Admissions

Did You Notice? … NASCAR’s Sponsor Search, Martin’s “Retirement?” And Shocking Admissions

*Did You Notice?...* How many of the top teams still have races available for primary sponsors? We’ve only been through two days of the NASCAR Media tour, with several of the top programs still to go and the list that’s been accumulated is staggering. Take a look at the number of unsold races for the following teams: *Stewart-Haas Racing* *Tony Stewart (No. 14):* 9 of 36 races unsold (25%) *Ryan Newman (No. 39):* 8 of 36 (22%) *Danica Patrick (No. 10):* 3 of 36 (8%) *TOTAL FOR TEAM:* 20 races unsold Read More »

Did You Notice? … Landon’s Loss, Testing Tidbits And The Danger Of NASCAR Stability

Did You Notice? … Landon’s Loss, Testing Tidbits And The Danger Of NASCAR Stability

*Did You Notice?...* Those who impressed at Daytona testing weren’t as surprising as some might think? Yes, some eyebrows were raised when Jeff Burton led Friday morning practice at Daytona. Overall, Richard Childress Racing was strong, flashing the best speed out of the Chevy brigade despite winning all of one race last season. But Burton, with new crew chief Luke Lambert shouldn’t surprise anyone. Daytona was the No. 31 team’s strongest track last year; their two top-5 results of 2012 were registered there. In the 500, especially Burton looked like an upset contender, leading 24 laps before getting shuffled back to fifth down the stretch. Other strong teams have a very familiar ring to it. Take Joe Gibbs Racing, with the combination of Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, and Kyle Busch. Hamlin led 57 laps in last year’s 500, the most of any driver while Busch has totaled 180 in that category over the past five seasons. Add in newcomer Kenseth, the defending race champion and it’s easy to predict they’ll be successful. Read More »

Did You Notice? … We Need To Shake NASCAR’s Offseason Awake?

Did You Notice? … We Need To Shake NASCAR’s Offseason Awake?

*Did You Notice?...* The snoozer of a NASCAR offseason to start off 2013? Of course, last year’s circuslike atmosphere (Kurt Busch’s firing, the resulting musical chairs, Kasey Kahne’s breastfeeding "boo boo," Greg Zipadelli joining old buddy Tony Stewart) comes around oh, about once a decade. But this time around, even with the new Gen6 car there’s been more excitement surrounding "the girlfriend":http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/8825207/aj-mccarron-girlfriend-katherine-webb-spotlight-bcs-title-game of a college football quarterback in the sporting world than stock car racing. You can bet number two on the list of New Year’s Resolutions for Brian France (behind “find some way, _any_ way to keep my divorce records sealed) is for some giant piece of news to pop out of the sky between now and Daytona Speedweeks. Read More »

Did You Notice? … The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Of NASCAR 2012

Did You Notice? … The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Of NASCAR 2012

*Did You Notice?...* As the dust begins to settle on the 2012 Sprint Cup season, a look inside the numbers tells you the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly on the state of the sport. Let’s get right to it: *The Good:* A total of fifteen different drivers won a race this season, roughly one-third of what would compose a 43-car grid in a total that’s roughly in line with previous years. Also, for the second straight season parity took center stage as no driver got more than five wins apiece. Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin, drivers from three different organizations _and_ manufacturers shared the honor. It’s hard to get competition any closer than that; NASCAR hasn’t had league-leading victory totals this low in back-to-back years since 1991-92. Read More »

Did You Notice? … A Quality Champion, Resistance To Change And Quick Hits

Did You Notice? … A Quality Champion, Resistance To Change And Quick Hits

*Did You Notice?...* Brad Keselowski’s Chase is one of the more impressive in the history of the playoff format? Lost in the shuffle of Jimmie Johnson’s wreck, the Gordon-Bowyer brawl and “cell phone gate” is just how well the No. 2 team has performed, putting them in position to cakewalk to the title Sunday at Homestead. Barring a major mishap, like some sort of engine failure or blown tire Keselowski should ease to a top-15 finish, all he needs to secure the hardware for the first time in his Sprint Cup career. So how has Keselowski done it? A three-pronged combination of consistency, wins, and heart. Let’s tackle them one at a time. Here’s how the driver’s Chase average finish to date compares with other champions since 2004: Read More »

Did You Notice? … Too Much Time, Vickers Breaking Ground And Chasing Stats

Did You Notice? … Too Much Time, Vickers Breaking Ground And Chasing Stats

*Did You Notice?...* A focus on everything but the drivers at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing? As we spoke about "in Mirror Driving today,":http://www.frontstretch.com/md/42022/ EGR is switching to Hendrick engines next season, moving away from an internal program combined with Childress in an effort to improve on-track performance. That follows a total housecleaning, at the end of 2011 where just about everyone important _behind the scenes_ got a Pink Slip lump of coal from Target Santa. Among those who got the axe: Competition Director Steve Hmiel, Team Manager Tony Glover and Lead Engineer Ed Nathman. Considering Hmiel and Glover were at the top of the charts in the ‘90s, with Mark Martin and Sterling Marlin, respectively; they had dozens of Cup Series victories, Daytona 500 triumphs and pole positions earned in a combined six-plus decades of NASCAR service. Read More »