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Four Burning Questions

Four Burning Questions: Junior’s Chances, Jimmie-Time and Changes for Biffle and Bodine

Four Burning Questions: Junior’s Chances, Jimmie-Time and Changes for Biffle and Bodine

*ONE: Could Dale Earnhardt Jr. really fall out of the Chase?* Though he seemed like a lock merely weeks ago, Dale Earnhardt Jr. suddenly seems vulnerable to falling out of the top 10 – and without a win on the season – out of the Chase. With eight races remaining, Earnhardt is just 21 points ahead of Tony Stewart and the 11th position, and most importantly with the new wildcard format, he has three drivers outside of the top 10 with one win this season. What’s alarming for Junior Nation, critics, and Earnhardt himself, is that a mere four races ago he sat third and was considered a lock for the final ten race Chase. Finishes of 21st, 41st, 19th and 30th have erased any cushion he has now, and it’s getting down to crunch time. But looking closer at the standings, Earnhardt – while not as safe as before – still has a great chance of making the Chase. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Logano the Favorite? Edwards the Worried? And More

Four Burning Questions: Logano the Favorite? Edwards the Worried? And More

_This week on “Four Burning Questions,” I will be filling in for Mike Lovecchio, but Mike should be back next week. Going into the inaugural race at Kentucky Speedway, we cover the “Four Burning Questions” that fans will be asking themselves going into this race. After the frantic last couple of weeks of road course and restrictor plate racing, we go to the Bluegrass State for a taste a different type of horse-power than the state of Kentucky is accustomed to._ *Can David Ragan continue his momentum from his Daytona win into a possible spot in the Chase?* Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Junior’s Big Chance, Who’s the Next Big Surprise, and NASCAR’s Good Call

Four Burning Questions: Junior’s Big Chance, Who’s the Next Big Surprise, and NASCAR’s Good Call

*ONE: Is this the race Dale Earnhardt Jr. breaks his winless streak?* For months now, this is the race on the calendar I have had circled for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s breakthrough back into Victory Lane. He’s been close for sure. After all, eight top 10s, three top 5s and a pair of runner-up finishes has been enough to keep Junior Nation and Earnhardt Jr. himself satisfied. Earnhardt will be the first to tell you he’d be willing to sacrifice a win for a championship caliber season, but I don’t think he’d complain about making his return to Victory Lane at a track that has meant so much to him and his family in the past. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Turning Left and Right in Wine Country

Four Burning Questions: Turning Left and Right in Wine Country

_Welcome to another edition of Four Burning Questions! In this edition, we tackle the four questions looming on the minds of race fans after the melee that was Michgan and how these questions will play out at Infineon this weekend._ *1. Will Jimmie Johnson be able to defend his crown at Infineon?* At this stage last year, Jimmie Johnson was in mid-season form, racking up his fourth win of the 2010 season at Infineon after a colossal faux pas by Marcos Ambrose in the closing laps. But this year, despite being fifth in points, Jimmie Johnson only has one win to his credit at Talladega and has been plagued with inconsistency on the track and a slew of pit-road miscues. If Johnson is to get his season back on the winning track, Infineon would be the ideal place to get that elusive second win of 2011. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Two For One, Adding the Boot, Flukes and Wild Cards

Four Burning Questions: Two For One, Adding the Boot, Flukes and Wild Cards

*ONE: Should NASCAR consider running twin races on the same day?* In one word: YES. I have been an advocate of shortening races for a while now (with the exception of the obvious Coca-Cola 600, Daytona 500, Southern 500), but a race format somewhat similar to what we saw last week with the IndyCar Series is an interesting alternative. Two races, half the distance of what a current race is nowadays, with a 30-minute break in between. Qualify on Friday like teams are used to and set the field for the second race via finishing order of the first race (no need to do a random exhibition race-like drawing for second race starting positions). If you crash out or break in the first race, you can wheel out a back-up car for the second race and start in the back. Each race awards half points. Read More »

Pocono’s Four Burning Questions: Hamlin, Earnhardt’s Victory Lane Hopes Plus Childress v. Busch, Part II?

Pocono’s Four Burning Questions: Hamlin, Earnhardt’s Victory Lane Hopes Plus Childress v. Busch, Part II?

500 miles at Pocono officially kicks off the second half of NASCAR's regular season, and for Kyle Busch and Richard Childress, the green flag can't come fast enough. Their fight has dominated the headlines this week, from Jimmy Spencer to that Jimmy you saw yapping with the bartender last night forming an opinion on the subject. But beyond their little scuffle, there's been plenty of news to follow this weekend at a time where winless teams are willing to start thinking outside the box in order to jumpstart seasons stuck in neutral. Which one of those wheelmen will stand out come Sunday, and why? Let's take a look at one to start this weekend preview... Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Who Needs a Win at Kansas, What About Earnhardt, and a Double Dip?

Four Burning Questions: Who Needs a Win at Kansas, What About Earnhardt, and a Double Dip?

*1. Which driver needs a win the most at Kansas?* It’s true that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. needs a win badly-it’s been 105 races since the 18-time Cup winner has seen the inside of Victory Lane, but it’s not imperative _right now_. Yes it would be great for fan morale and ratings, but Junior needs to win more to prove something than anything. He’s a solid fourth in points and running strong just about everywhere, with top ten finishes in half the races this season-which is about what his Kansas stats suggest will be the result this week-a nice, solid top 10. Life is solid, if not brilliant, in the Earnhardt camp. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Stenhouse’s Debut, Danica’s Jump, and Sunday’s Favorites

Four Burning Questions: Stenhouse’s Debut, Danica’s Jump, and Sunday’s Favorites

*Is Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s Cup debut a sign of things to come?* Much has been written in this space this year regarding the friendly competition between Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse, and how much Bayne’s time away from the track benefits Stenhouse and his career. This week, Stenhouse gets the ultimate break as Bayne will not compete in the Coca-Cola 600, allowing the Mississippi native to make his Sprint Cup debut one week after winning his first Nationwide race. While I’ve talked up the rivalry (if you can call it that) in the past I will admit – and all signs point to this being the direction – Bayne will retain his status as top prospect in the Roush Fenway organization when he returns. It’s more of a 1A/1B type situation, but Bayne is the more experienced (albeit slightly) and marketable of the two…and that Daytona 500 win doesn’t hurt either. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: An Undercard, Main Event and Resurgence on Tap at Dover

Four Burning Questions: An Undercard, Main Event and Resurgence on Tap at Dover

*Will Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Newman go for Round 3?* This has been a long-standing feud that goes back to Homestead in 2006, that allegedly came to blows at Darlington this past week. The end result was Juan Pablo Montoya driving like a pissed-off teenager and wrecking everything except the pace car. Odds are this is likely not going to continue for a third straight week because after Juan dumped Jeff Gordon, he became noticeably more courteous to other drivers than usual. Read More »