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Four Burning Questions

Four Burning Questions: Fuel Mileage, Johnson’s Chances, and Those Other Championship Battles

Four Burning Questions: Fuel Mileage, Johnson’s Chances, and Those Other Championship Battles

*What should NASCAR do about an increasing number of fuel mileage races?* This year’s Chase field is one of the deepest since the start of the playoff format. Going into the final ten races, fans and media members could reel off a list of ten drivers who had just as good of a chance as the next to claim the Sprint Cup. And while through the first two Chase races we’ve seen the parity we’ve all expected, we’ve seen fuel mileage take center stage...and a driver who failed to win a race in the first 26 events take advantage of the situation to claim two wins. Fuel mileage racing has certainly jumbled up the points standings and turned great days into poor ones, and visa versa, but the last lap excitement it provides has divided fans. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Denny Hamlin Out, Dale Jr. In, and Talladega Unpredictability

Four Burning Questions: Denny Hamlin Out, Dale Jr. In, and Talladega Unpredictability

*Who will be the biggest mover in Week 2 of the Chase?* Tony Stewart shocked the field with a win at Chicagoland last weekend, moving from ninth to second in points, but it’s his teammate who has the possibly to accomplish the same feat in week 2. Ryan Newman is one of the strongest drivers at New Hampshire, claiming his first win at the one-mile track and winning there earlier this season. Newman has three wins and 13 top 10 finishes at New Hampshire, and you better believe that there is a lot of momentum right now throughout the Stewart-Haas organization. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Chase Favorites, Feuds, and Clint Bowyer’s Future

Four Burning Questions: Chase Favorites, Feuds, and Clint Bowyer’s Future

Going into Chicagoland and the first round of the 2011 edition of the “Chase For The Cup”, there are many stories surrounding what we might see on the racetrack in the coming weeks, but we here at the Frontstretch have narrowed it down to “Four Burning Questions”. *1.) Will the Jimmie Johnson/Kurt Busch feud carry into the Chase?* Make no mistake about it: These two individuals get along about as well as Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Floyd Mayweather Jr. There definitely is bad blood and animosity between these two, and after last week’s skirmishes, to quote the legendary Dee Snider, “they’re not going to take it anymore”. The question with these two isn’t so much if there will be retribution; it’s a matter of when that payback happens. Kurt Busch is hell-bent on making sure that Jimmie Johnson does not win the Chase, while Johnson is determined not to be bullied around like a 98-pound weakling in high school gym class. Will that pay-back happen at Chicagoland? Highly doubtful, but don’t be surprised to see the ill will come to a head somewhere like Dover or Martinsville where trading paint is the norm. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Wild Cards, Jr.’s Future, And Look Out For JJ Again

Four Burning Questions: Wild Cards, Jr.’s Future, And Look Out For JJ Again

*Does Paul Menard have any chance of making the Chase?* While it’s not exactly the ideal scenario for Paul Menard, this season’s Chase-hopeful Cinderella story has at least a marginal shot at earning a wildcard position with two races remaining before the cutoff. With just a quick glance at the Sprint Cup standings to date, it may appear Menard’s chances are dimming, but there is one scenario that could easily play out and allow Menard to sneak into the Chase next weekend in Richmond. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Busch, Brad, and Bristol

Four Burning Questions: Busch, Brad, and Bristol

*Can Danica Patrick contend for the Nationwide title in 2012?* Now that the worst kept secret in the NASCAR garage is official, the big question is…how well will Danica Patrick run in her first full season of Nationwide competition next year? Patrick will be making the jump from IndyCar next season and immediately be thrown under the bright lights as the scrutiny and expectations that come with being one of the sport’s most popular drivers are bound to appear as soon as cars unload in Daytona. But what’s a realistic goal for any driver with limited stock car experience that’s bound to be in a competitive car? Patrick showed great improvement from her limited season in 2010 and even managed multiple top 10s this season before continuing with her IndyCar campaign. But if one looks at the Nationwide points this season, you can immediately see that any thoughts that Patrick could indeed be a championship contender are simply unrealistic. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Chase Bubble Contenders, a Busch Sweep and a Log-jam at Roush

Four Burning Questions: Chase Bubble Contenders, a Busch Sweep and a Log-jam at Roush

*Which Chase bubble driver has the best chance to win this weekend?* Watkins Glen couldn’t come soon enough on the schedule for Chase bubble drivers such as Juan Pablo Montoya (21st in points), Marcos Ambrose (23rd in points) and A.J. Allmendinger (16th in points). A win on Sunday could not only turn the season around for one of these struggling race teams, but in the case of Montoya and Ambrose, it could throw one of these drivers back into the top 20, with a chance at qualifying for the Chase for the Cup. One year ago, Montoya dominated the event, leading 74 of 90 laps. Meanwhile Marcos Ambrose came home third. In three starts at the track, Ambrose has been third twice and second once. Allmendinger was fourth last summer and has top-15 finishes in all three of his starts at Watkins Glen. With only five races left until the 26-race cutoff, this may be the last chance for these three drivers to go to victory lane and have it count towards something bigger. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Edwards, Edwards, and Gordon the Favorite

Four Burning Questions: Edwards, Edwards, and Gordon the Favorite

*Did Carl Edwards make the right decision in re-signing with Roush Fenway?* After months of rampant speculation about where Carl Edwards would be driving in 2012, the 2011 Sprint Cup Series points leader opted this week to stay loyal to Roush Fenway Racing and remain with the organization, spurning Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards and a potential Home Depot sponsorship at JGR may have certainly been appealing, but when it comes to winning races, this was a no-brainer. In seven full seasons with Roush Fenway, Edwards has amassed 19 wins, 79 top 5s and 126 top 10s while becoming the face of the organization and one of the most appealing drivers for fans and sponsors alike. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Who Needs To Get It Done, Final Round For The Short Track, and Pastrana Arrives

Four Burning Questions: Who Needs To Get It Done, Final Round For The Short Track, and Pastrana Arrives

*What driver outside of the top 10 in points has the most pressure this weekend?* Without a doubt that award has to go to Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya has dropped to a season-low points position of 17th following a 30th-place showing at New Hampshire two weeks ago, but has a pair of tracks coming where he can turn his season – and Chase hopes – around. There’s no doubt that Montoya has excelled at Indianapolis in the past. He finished second there in his first start in 2007, had a win taken away by a pit road speeding penalty in 2009 and another solid finish in 2010 taken away by an accident. Any chance Montoya has of breaking into the top 10 in points is shot at this point in the season, but in the new “wildcard era,” this week at Indy, and a stop at Watkins Glen in a few weeks gives Montoya a chance at new life. Read More »

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 »