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Holding A Pretty Wheel

Just Thinking About…Lean Times, Junior as The Future of HMS, and Making a Violation Go Away-and Some Other Stuff

Just Thinking About…Lean Times, Junior as The Future of HMS, and Making a Violation Go Away-and Some Other Stuff

With just three races left on the schedule, there have been complaints of a lack of on-track action in some of the Chase races. There’s been no dearth of action off the track, however. In fact, there were so many interesting storylines this week, I couldn’t pick just one. Or maybe it’s just the fact that I have the attention span of a kindergartener on pixie stix. Something like that. In any case, here is my take on some of the recent happenings in NASCAR. Read More »

Tragedy Only Fueled Hendrick’s Triumph In Their Darkest Hour

Tragedy Only Fueled Hendrick’s Triumph In Their Darkest Hour

It was the first time Brian Vickers smiled all weekend. That was my first thought one Sunday afternoon, a scant four years ago when the dust had settled after the 2004 Bass Pro Shops 500. The second was that it took extraordinary courage and poise for the winning team to be there at all. Racing rarely gives much, but it can take in an instant. Tragedy is constantly a hairbreadth away, and inevitably, sometimes, that line is crossed. Perhaps not so strangely, in a sport that is fueled by danger and excitement, triumph can also be fueled by tragedy. Read More »

Lean Times or Cash Cow-NASCAR Meets the Economy

Lean Times or Cash Cow-NASCAR Meets the Economy

There has certainly been much written lately about the state of the economy and how it effects NASCAR. Sponsors pulling out; teams, especially in the series below Sprint Cup, cutting schedules or folding altogether (remember just a year ago when four or more teams went home each week? Now it’s more often two, maybe three); teams cutting costs--the list goes on. Surprisingly, though, there hasn’t been as much written about the economic state of NASCAR from the ground up--what effect is the current economy having on the largest part of the NASCAR pyramid, the fans? While the immediate effect of an economic slowdown is on the corporate end, eventually, the fans who patronize the individual races will feel the pinch as well-and then track owners feel it. But does NASCAR itself feel the strain? Read More »

A Tale of Two Drivers: Will the Real Carl Edwards Please Stand Up?

A Tale of Two Drivers: Will the Real Carl Edwards Please Stand Up?

On one side of the garage, there’s a driver who is thrilled when he wins and gracious when he’s not. He owns up when he causes something on track. He’s kind and funny with the fans, and has worked his butt off to get to the top level of the sport. He contends for championships and champions kids. Say hello and you’ll be rewarded with a bright smile. Elsewhere in the garage, there’s a driver who often acts surly and rude. He takes out a volatile temper with a racecar and makes moves on track that he doesn’t care if someone else gets taken out on the other end of. He makes snide remarks and some off the cuff statements that are downright scary. He has been known to shove another driver in the garage. I’m not talking about Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart. Nope, not Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch either. Or Junior and Kevin Harvick. I’m talking about Carl Edwards…and Carl Edwards. The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Read More »

Some Guys Have It, Some Guys Don’t: The Intangible That Makes Champions

Some Guys Have It, Some Guys Don’t: The Intangible That Makes Champions

It takes fast cars and skill beyond skill to be a NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. It also takes a great crew both at the shop and in the pits, along with a sponsor to pony up the huge sum necessary to compete in today’s Cup series. It takes an owner willing to put it all on the line for the Cup and a family supportive of their loved one being gone for a third of the year. It takes parts and pieces and engines and transmissions galore. It takes dedication and passion and strategy. It also takes the ability to roll with the punches. There is arguably no clear favorite to take over the head table at the Waldorf-Astoria, but it’s a safe bet that whoever does take home the Cup and all the hopes and dreams it represents will have one additional thing on his side: the ability to overcome adversity. Read More »

Eight Great NASCAR Books You Probably Haven’t Read

Eight Great NASCAR Books You Probably Haven’t Read

With these cooler fall days and nights, sometimes curling up with a good book is just the ticket to a good time. Whether you’re a newer fan or a veteran, there are many great racing-themed books to choose from. With the possible exception of those by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Tony Stewart, you might have missed these titles. Some racing books are better then others, and some are must-reads. Here’s my list of NASCAR books you must read-the best of the best the library has to offer. Read More »

When Is a Fight Not a Fight?  Only When It’s Between Cup Drivers.

When Is a Fight Not a Fight? Only When It’s Between Cup Drivers.

Fight! There’s one word that’s sure to send people flocking to a scene, and last Saturday, they flocked to pit road at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, specifically to the immediate vicinity of David Starr’s truck. There were several reasons for the sudden congregation. Todd Bodine’s team hurried to the scene to…well, start the fight. They had a beef with Starr, who had dumped their driver, Todd Bodine, in the very late going of the Camping World RV Rental 200. Bodine was the third driver Starr had tangled with in the same manner during the race, including their teammate, David Reutimann, and Bodine’s crew took exception. Some of Reutimann’s crew joined the fracas as well. Several NASCAR officials also arrived on the scene, hoping to break up the fray before it became a brawl. They were outnumbered, and the fray became kind of a brawlette anyway. Some media and onlookers probably flocked to the scene as well, but that’s another story. Read More »

In Stremme, Penske Gets Marketability – But What About Driving Ability?

In Stremme, Penske Gets Marketability – But What About Driving Ability?

It’d be kind of ironic -- given that I wrote a column on driver marketability a few weeks ago -- if the topic had been shot to the forefront of the sport, wrapped around what is probably close to the last of the major teams’ driver signings. Yet, that’s exactly what happened when Penske Racing South made David Stremme the official driver of the No. 12 Dodge for 2009 and beyond, a move that might at least score them the award for Worst Kept Secret of the Year. And, despite being long rumored, the move still surprises me -- because Penske could have done better. Read More »

New Bud Shootout?  More Like Shooting Yourself In the Foot

New Bud Shootout? More Like Shooting Yourself In the Foot

Note to self: never, ever wonder if it could get worse. When I wrote "earlier this year":http://www.frontstretch.com/ahenderson/14266/ that the Budweiser Shootout had outlived its purpose, it was because the segment lengths made it boring -- and with Budweiser giving way to Coors Light as the pole sponsor, it seemed as good a time as any to retire the race altogether. It was still popular enough even though it was getting stale... so why not go out in style? Before things got worse? Too late. Read More »

It’s a Mix of Cheers and Boos for NASCAR’s 2009 Schedules

It’s a Mix of Cheers and Boos for NASCAR’s 2009 Schedules

NASCAR released the 2009 schedules for the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and truck series this week, and there were a few changes for each circuit as the sport moves forward. On the truck calendar, NASCAR hit a home run, and the Nationwide circuit was a stand-up double. The Sprint Cup schedule, however, was more of a weak ground ball to second base for the first out of the inning. Read More »