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Holding A Pretty Wheel

NASCAR Hall of Fame Highlights the Sport’s Heart and Soul: Its Roots

NASCAR Hall of Fame Highlights the Sport’s Heart and Soul: Its Roots

It’s a good week to be a NASCAR fan. It began on Saturday night with the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway (misnamed though it may be; the Southern 500 was never meant to be run in May), and it will culminate on Tuesday with the grand opening of the new NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte. The Hall was a long time coming, but after stopping by for a behind-the-scenes look last week I'm confident it will be an important part of the sport's history for a long time to come. The new Hall has a little something for everyone, from every era of stock car racing. Fans are welcomed with a short film, and if it doesn’t do anything for you, you’re probably in the wrong place to begin with. You come out of the theater, wide-eyed from the light and face-to-face with a contrast, the first of many. In the case on your left are four vintage trophies. In the case on your right, four brand new Sprint Cups. Read More »

As The Nationwide Series Loses Its Identity, NASCAR Stands Silently By

As The Nationwide Series Loses Its Identity, NASCAR Stands Silently By

Watching Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race from Richmond was a bit of an eye opener for me. No, I didn’t see some young talent and wonder why a bigger team hasn’t picked him up. I didn’t see a series veteran taking the younger guys to school. Watching the race, I saw just how bad it’s gotten. I’m not trying to fool myself; I’ve known for a long time that it’s bad. I guess I just didn’t want to believe it was this bad. Like a case of dry rot in the framework of a house, thinks look OK if you don’t look too closely, but after awhile, you can’t ignore the damage - and by then, it might be too late to fix it. Read More »

Talladega: Where You Don’t Have to Be Good, Just Lucky

Talladega: Where You Don’t Have to Be Good, Just Lucky

It’s better to be lucky than good. That adage is as old as racing itself, and couldn’t be more true. Luck has won drivers races and the occasional championship, and no matter how good you are, well, Lady Luck can remind you of what last place looks like in a hurry. So, yes, sometimes it really is better to be lucky than good. Until NASCAR took it one step too far. An aphorism once meant to inflate the thrill of victory or take away a bit of the agony of defeat has taken on a whole new meaning in NASCAR. It reflected a moment in time, a lucky break ... not every second of every lap. Read More »

Why Johnson + Gordon = Uh-Oh: Teams Have Enough Trouble w/o Making Their Own

Why Johnson + Gordon = Uh-Oh: Teams Have Enough Trouble w/o Making Their Own

It was as uncharacteristic as thunder straight out of a sunny sky. And, like a bolt from the blue that harmlessly strikes a lightning rod instead of causing an inferno, it could have been so much worse. The fact that it wasn’t worse was blind luck, really. And the most worrisome part about it is the two cars in the eye of the squall weren’t rivals, but teammates - cars that should be working together and not tangling, both of them championship contenders. The duo averted disaster, but at least one of them was surely left wondering how dear the cost really was. Read More »

NASCAR Not the Only Winner in the Blame Game

NASCAR Not the Only Winner in the Blame Game

"NASCAR is boring." Or so say many race fans and media, frustrated with the changes in the sport in recent years. We heap the blame on the sanctioning body for everything from A to Z; and let's face it, we _enjoy_ it. NASCAR is such an easy target for everyone's frustrations, especially considering the facts; over the last decade, to say they've screwed up a lot is putting it mildly. But not all the time. That’s right: despite what you might think, the sport's recent decline is not all NASCAR’s fault. Read More »

Why Fans Should Watch The K&N Pro Series – Even Though NASCAR Isn’t

Why Fans Should Watch The K&N Pro Series – Even Though NASCAR Isn’t

The racing is perfect. The schedule is great, and the tracks on the schedule are varied and exciting. There are haves and have nots, but money doesn’t always guarantee success. The sanctioning body is fair and consistent most of the time. Teams can be competitive on a modest budget. This may sound like a fantasy world to many NASCAR fans, where the complaints about the sport run the gamut from “boring racing” to “bad calls” to “big budget teams winning all the time.” A racing series where racing rules the day, the officials make good decisions, and they don’t race on cookie-cutter tracks? "Sign me up," most would say in an instant. "Where can I find this too-good-to-be true racing? Is it ARCA, ASA, USAC, a new series from a galaxy far, far away?" No. It’s NASCAR. Read More »

Racing? At Victory Junction, Earnhardt Is About So Much More

Racing? At Victory Junction, Earnhardt Is About So Much More

Sometimes, it’s not about the racing. In fact, at Victory Junction it wasn’t even allowed to be on Saturday -- the ground rules for the press conference, according to host Kyle Petty, included, “No stupid racing questions.” And everyone complied, because despite the principals being all about NASCAR, driving fast and turning left wasn’t on anybody’s mind. To some, the day represented a gift -- one given from the heart. To others, it was an opportunity to meet their hero, who was glad to oblige. To more, it was about escaping reality for a short time, and enjoying a fleeting childhood for a little while longer. Read More »

Bristol Singalong: What Drivers SHOULD have Chosen

Bristol Singalong: What Drivers SHOULD have Chosen

It was one of the most anticipated events of the season so far. No, wait - that was the race. But Bristol Motor Speedway has something besides great on-track competition. As of last year, they might just be able to boast the greatest driver introductions in NASCAR. OK, OK, that’s nothing much when you look at the grand scheme of things. But it’s become somewhat of a mini-tradition already and a heck of a lot of fun to follow along with. Here's the deal: Bristol, unlike other tracks, allows drivers to select a 15-second clip of a song of their choice for their walk across the stage. In the face of three hours of intense focus and general mayhem, it's a nice, frivolous way to lighten things up before the green flag. Read More »

NASCAR 2010: Better Racing, But Stay In Your Own Series

NASCAR 2010: Better Racing, But Stay In Your Own Series

With four races on the books so far in 2010, it’s looking like a whole new ballgame in NASCAR. The races have been very good - even Fontana wasn’t as boring as usual, and that’s saying something. With the series in an "off week," here are a few of my observations on the year to date: *The racing is better, but…* The schedule still needs drastic improvement. While the races this year have been decent, NASCAR needs to seriously revamp the schedules for all three of its national touring series. A few of the cookie-cutter tracks, like Fontana, Michigan, and even Atlanta, need at least one date replaced - just not with another cookie-cutter like Kentucky. Read More »

NASCAR Needs a Rivalry-But Are Those Days Gone?

NASCAR Needs a Rivalry-But Are Those Days Gone?

The last couple of years in NASCAR have been ones marked by race fans looking for more. More competitive racing, more consistency, more excitement. And NASCAR, to their credit, has tried to give fans some of the things they have asked for-the spoiler will return in a couple of weeks, start times are uniform, and the racing rules made the Daytona 500 memorable. But there is one other thing fans want, and it’s the one thing the sanctioning body can’t make a rule change to give them. NASCAR needs a rivalry. The sport’s history is dotted with rivalries: Petty-Pearson. Yarborough-Waltrip. Waltrip-Wallace. Earnhardt-Gordon. Read More »