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Holding A Pretty Wheel

Winner, Champion…and Racer: Kenny Wallace Is All of These

Winner, Champion…and Racer: Kenny Wallace Is All of These

_ I don’t care if it’s Travis Pastrana racing World Rally cars, or if it’s Kenny Schrader winning the dirt series in the late models or Kenny right now in modifieds or Tony Stewart—they all have a connection. They’re winners, they’re champions, and most importantly, they’re racers.” –Jeff Hammond_ Saturday morning came early to Loudon, New Hampshire, with the promise of being a scorcher of a day, and Kenny Wallace was sick to his stomach. It wasn’t the heat or the flu that was making the 48-year-old Wallace feel like he’d swallowed a whole herd of angry butterflies, but rather the conflict between commitment and opportunity. Read More »

On the Road: Odds, Ends, and Observations

On the Road: Odds, Ends, and Observations

Here’s the thing about long road trips: you have a lot of time to think. You just don’t always have the luxury of thinking about something for a long time, because you get distracted by things like a slow truck in the passing lane, road construction, or your gas gauge. But really, all you have to really work on is fuel, food, and restrooms. The rest of the time is pretty much dead air. Which, for me, anyway, meant that I had most of the 15-hour (give or take) drive from Charlotte to New Hampshire and back to think about racing. Granted, not everything I thought about was publication material, but I did have a lot of thoughts and observations on the ride, and some are worth sharing. They just aren’t enough for a complete column of their own because, well, I’m…easily distractable. Read More »

All That’s Come and Gone: NASCAR 15 Years Later

All That’s Come and Gone: NASCAR 15 Years Later

Change. It’s something we talk about all the time when discussing NASCAR, because it is a constant. It is the nature of the sport to change; some of that change is necessary, some neither necessary nor embraced. It has to happen; technology advances, and so do the ages of the drivers and teams. A driver’s prime can’t last forever. On an individual team level, it’s a sport in which they must adapt to change or be left behind. If change is slow, it’s harder to notice; much of the change has been slow, though the big items, like the Chase format (which most people have never really warmed to) and the new car (a necessary evil), make it seem more rapid. Read More »

NHMS Success and Dashed Hopes Link Newman, Burton

NHMS Success and Dashed Hopes Link Newman, Burton

As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series prepares to race at its only New England venue this week, talk is also heating up about Silly Season. As drivers and sponsors begin to make moves (Matt Kenseth has already announced that he will be leaving Roush Fenway Racing for an as-of-yet undisclosed team, while sponsor U.S. Army has declared its plans to leave NASCAR racing at the end of the year), there are always questions. After the Army announcement earlier this week, Ryan Newman is suddenly in the midst of the talk, while in the background, quiet speculation has been made about the career of another veteran driver, Jeff Burton. Read More »

Drivers Not Rushing to Judge Allmendinger–And Neither Should We

Drivers Not Rushing to Judge Allmendinger–And Neither Should We

For the first time since AJ Allmendinger was suspended for a positive drug test last week, Sprint Cup drivers sat down with the media to have their say on the situation. And the responses were nearly the same across the board: shock at the news, but unwillingness to pass judgment against Allmendinger—or against NASCAR’s drug testing policy--without more facts about the situation. Everyone should take their cue from them. Read More »

NASCAR Needs Yellow Flag Common Sense, Not Smoke & Mirrors

NASCAR Needs Yellow Flag Common Sense, Not Smoke & Mirrors

There's been a lot of talk this year about the lack of caution periods in Sprint Cup races. By now you’ve heard the theories on what’s causing the long green flag runs and whether anything can be done to break them up. Last weekend, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. owner Bruton Smith got involved in the discussion, saying that the solution is mandatory caution periods during every Cup race. Read More »

The Green Flag Flies on NASCAR Silly Season 2012

The Green Flag Flies on NASCAR Silly Season 2012

All eyes this week have been squarely on Matt Kenseth as it became official that he would leave Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the season. Speculation swirled over the reason for his imminent departure and on where Kenseth would go next. While Kenseth has confirmed that he has a deal in place, he would not confirm _where_ his 2013 deal is. The prevailing theory is that Kenseth will land at Joe Gibbs Racing, but reports of a new team, owned by IndyCar owner Michael Andretti have also surfaced. Regardless of where Kenseth lands, his move marks the official beginning of Silly Season 2012…and this one is like sitting on a powder keg…it could get big. Read More »

Boob Tube: How Television Is Bringing NASCAR Down

Boob Tube: How Television Is Bringing NASCAR Down

You see it in the NASCAR headlines almost daily: lack of sponsorship causing teams to sit out races or fold altogether; fans are leaving, TV ratings are faltering. And there are all sorts of reasons offered for the problem. It’s the economy; it’s the boring racing and boring drivers; it’s the cars; it’s the teams’ fault. And it’s likely that all of those factors contribute. But is there another issue contributing to both the lack of sponsorship and the declining viewership? Is the television broadcast of the race each week to blame as well? The answer is yes. And not only are they hurting the race teams, they’re hurting their own bottom line. Read More »

Safe At Any Speed? NASCAR Puts Safety To the Test at Michigan

Safe At Any Speed? NASCAR Puts Safety To the Test at Michigan

At the conclusion of a one-day test at Michigan International Speedway, one thing is crystal clear: the track is blazing fast. Tony Stewart had the fastest lap of the day with an average speed of 201.896 miles per hour. Drivers reported reaching speeds of 218 at the end of the frontstretch. NASCAR, as always, was optimistic about the racing surface following the test. When Tony Stewart completed the fastest lap of the day, he was going 201.896 miles per hour. Read More »

Better Days: The Role of Nostalgia in NASCAR

Better Days: The Role of Nostalgia in NASCAR

For some reason, I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately. I’m not sure why, but whatever the reason, I got to thinking about the first races I went to. I’ll admit that I was skeptical about the first one; despite my aspirations to cover major American sports, NASCAR wasn’t really on the radar then. It was my dad and a family friend that changed that, when they had an extra ticket to a Cup race at Loudon and decided that I was the best candidate to go along. I agreed, curious to see what the hype was about-it was nearly impossible to score tickets for a New Hampshire race in the mid 1990’s, and I figured that maybe all those people knew something I didn’t. Read More »