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Four Burning Questions

Four Burning Questions: The One to Watch, New Rules, and the Lead Change Bonus

Four Burning Questions: The One to Watch, New Rules, and the Lead Change Bonus

*Who is the one driver to watch on Sunday?* Without a doubt the one driver to keep an eye on this weekend is Jimmie Johnson. The five-time champion suddenly finds himself on the outside looking in after a crash at Charlotte dropped him five spots in the standings (now 35 points out) with five races remaining. Heading to the first of two wildcard races – a re-configured Phoenix being the other – Johnson is now in desperation mode. If it were any other driver in Johnson’s position you may be quick to write him off, but he’s proven doubters wrong time after time throughout his championship run and many are wondering if that will be the case again this season. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: The Secret to the Chase, The SI Jinx, And The Favorite at Charlotte

Four Burning Questions: The Secret to the Chase, The SI Jinx, And The Favorite at Charlotte

*Does Jimmie Johnson’s win show us a potential flaw in the Chase?* Jimmie Johnson’s not-so surprising win at Kansas has certainly flipped the Chase on its head, hasn’t it? Just like that Johnson and the No. 48 team, yeah, that five-time champion No. 48 team, is back in the championship hunt, just four points out of the series lead and heading to a track where Johnson has six career wins. But even when Johnson was tenth in points through the first two Chase races, didn’t we all see this coming? Are we really all that surprised? It’s no secret that this team has the Chase figured out. They know what they have at each of the Chase tracks and they don’t panic when they struggle. The end result is a story we’ve seen play out five times already, and if the first few chapters are any indication, we may see again. And that brings up one potential flaw of the Chase. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: A Close Championship, the New Phoenix and Dillon’s Debut

Four Burning Questions: A Close Championship, the New Phoenix and Dillon’s Debut

*Through three Chase races, is the Cup Series in line for its closest points battle ever?* If last Sunday’s race at Dover did anything to stake its role in this year’s Chase, we may look back at it as the one that set the stage for one of the tightest points battles the sport has ever seen. As the Sprint Cup series heads to Kansas this weekend – a track notoriously strong for the majority of the top Sprint Cup title contenders – the gap between points leaders Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart and ninth place Jeff Gordon is a mere 19 points. Read More »

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 »