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Holding A Pretty Wheel

Is A Four-Time Champ The Underdog For Five? Why Hamlin’s Become The Favorite

Is A Four-Time Champ The Underdog For Five? Why Hamlin’s Become The Favorite

A long, hot summer lies ahead for the NASCAR faithful. School’s out, and fans’ minds are turning toward vacations: to the track, to the beach, to the mountains, maybe all three. But in the garage, the minds of drivers and race teams are turning toward the Chase. For the past four years, Jimmie Johnson has been the solid title favorite, and proved all who called him that right with a string of championships never seen before in the Cup series. This year, even as Johnson sits in the midst of a massive slump, some are still calling him the man to beat. Really? Read More »

Where Dreams Can Come True: Modifieds, K&N Pro Series Perfect M’Ville Match

Where Dreams Can Come True: Modifieds, K&N Pro Series Perfect M’Ville Match

It’s a beautiful summer Saturday - hot and steamy as Southern summers are wont to be. I’m driving to Martinsville Speedway for the weekend’s event, and the beauty of this drive strikes me. Martinsville is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, encircled protectively by green hills and fields and trees, and everything about the speedway reflects an area that, at least by appearances, is trapped in time - a softer, easier time when you didn’t have to worry so much and if you worked hard, you could be successful and even prosperous. Read More »

With A Little Help From A Friend: How Mears Is Saving Brian Vickers – And Himself

With A Little Help From A Friend: How Mears Is Saving Brian Vickers – And Himself

Three years ago, Casey Mears was on cloud nine. He was driving for NASCAR’s biggest powerhouse team, Hendrick Motorsports. His stock was on the way up, and Mears capitalized, winning his first career Sprint Cup race with a victory in the Coca-Cola 600, a race where first-time winners are a rarity, and the ones who do get their first victory have all gone on to be champions. Mears shared Victory Lane with a driver who has been there a time or two, but never like this - his best friend Jimmie Johnson. His friends also “helped” Mears celebrate - by toilet papering his motor coach afterwards. It’s great to have good friends... Mears was a winner, on his way up in the NASCAR world with arguably its best team. Fast forward to 2010, and early this month Mears was left wondering if he would be in NASCAR at all. Read More »

The Roots That Gave NASCAR Its Wings: The Story Behind Sunday’s Hall Inductees

The Roots That Gave NASCAR Its Wings: The Story Behind Sunday’s Hall Inductees

“It’s bigger than you. It’s bigger than me.” These words, or words nearly like them were delivered by Bill France, Jr. to many a racer who had, in one way or another, raised his ire; and now, six decades into the sport that France’s father, Bill Senior, conceived in Daytona Beach, his words are still truth. The sport is bigger than Bill France Senior would have ever imagined, bigger even than Bill, Jr. envisioned when he enticed Winston to sign on to sponsor the top series. And for any person who is a piece of that "bigger thing" now, that _something more_ is a lucky person indeed. We all got a reminder of that on Sunday. Read More »

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 »