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Holding A Pretty Wheel

The Winds of NASCAR Change Blow Cold in Daytona

The Winds of NASCAR Change Blow Cold in Daytona

As NASCAR emerges at long last from its winter slumber, it’s clear that the winds of change blew strong in the sport. Little is as it was even a year ago. Old favorites closed doors while fresh-faced youngsters opened their own. Sponsors have come and gone. NASCAR made some areas more transparent only to make others murky. The season will open with a sense of optimism, but also of trepidation. Three areas of the sport underwent major overhauls for 2014. ... Read More »

One For the Ages: Looking Back At Darlington’s Most Epic Battle

One For the Ages: Looking Back At Darlington’s Most Epic Battle

Were you watching on that March Sunday as racing history was made? Were you on the edge of your seat? Did you think one or both of the drivers wouldn't make it to the finish as neither one backed down an inch? Who were you rooting for to pull out the win: the brash youngster who already had the reputation of being hotheaded and aggressive but could drive a car almost beyond the ragged edge, or the beleaguered veteran who never quite seemed to live up to his potential? Were you holding your breath as they made the final lap? Read More »

A Glimmer Of Hope For Small Teams, Sponsors

A Glimmer Of Hope For Small Teams, Sponsors

Sponsorship woes: it seems like they’re everywhere in NASCAR these days, and the reality is that they are. Even some of the sport’s biggest names, including a perennial Most Popular Driver and a three-time champion, have struggled to sell an entire schedule of races to backers this year, and many of the smaller teams are stretching race-to-race just to get to the track and sometimes even face the badge o f shame that pulling into the garage early has come ... Read More »

NASCAR And Clements: When Nobody Is Right, Everyone Is Wronged

NASCAR And Clements: When Nobody Is Right, Everyone Is Wronged

Every story has two sides. That's one of life's truths — along with the truth itself, generally lying somewhere between those two sides. Often, one side makes itself heard before the other, and opinions get formed without knowing the rebuttal. Or, speculation and empty rumors abound until both sides are heard, and then there's a judgment call about whom to side with on the issue. It's a little like a court of law: the prosecutor outlines the case and the defense gives their version of events before the jury gets to decide which one is more accurate, and to choose who's right and who's wrong. Read More »

NASCAR’s Dark Side: The Price Of Passion

NASCAR’s Dark Side: The Price Of Passion

If there is one universal attribute in racing that runs through the very veins of every driver, crewman, official and fan, it is passion. Passion has always run strong in the NASCAR community, passed from one generation to the next as seamlessly as water, or sometimes unexpectedly ignited in someone new at the sound of an engine or the smell of warm oil. Passion makes good drivers better. It pushes crews to find the miniscule advantage, one that mans the difference between winning and finishing second. It makes fans support their drivers from their early days, to the height of a career, then through the fading twilight into retirement with an optimism that always serves to keep them believing. The sport fuels the passion, and in turn, the passion drives the sport. It's a part of every race, every pass, every win. Read More »

The Sport’s History Can Fuel Passion In Its Fans Today

The Sport’s History Can Fuel Passion In Its Fans Today

With the many annual events in the NASCAR community, there are many opportunities to connect with the sport today, from televised pre-race shows to the awards banquet, Sprint Media Tour and the annual preview event held in Charlotte. Fans can see the new race cars, meet their favorite drivers, or see an in-depth story on just about anything. The NASCAR world is at our fingertips. But what about ways to connect today's fans to the sport's storied past? There aren't that many. Save the odd feature on the pre-race show, they aren't given many glimpses into what the sport once was. The lone annual exception is the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, just concluded for 2013. At that event, the sport's history is revered and glorified - as it should be. Those in attendance or watching at home can hear the stories from the people who lived them, or, if they aren't with us anymore, the people who knew them best. Read More »

Too Much of a Good Thing? How Social Media Has Changed NASCAR

Too Much of a Good Thing? How Social Media Has Changed NASCAR

The NASCAR Sprint Media Tour Hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway spent its 31st anniversary visiting with the sport's biggest names, from team owners to drivers to NASCAR executives. Optimism abounded about the new sixth-generation race cars, while sponsorship talk was a mixed bag with some teams announcing new backers, others championed extensions with old ones while the rest revealed a number of races still unpaid for. NASCAR outlined its plans for a much faster track-drying procedure and expressed continued support of the much-maligned Chase format. A few teams debuted new drivers, like Penske Racing's Joey Logano; Roush Fenway trumpeted Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.'s rise to Cup and Travis Pastrana's Nationwide presence. A few new paint schemes were unveiled, to limited fanfare while Nationwide Series drivers took on the media in some game-room challenges. All in all, there was plenty to talk about; none of it Earth-shattering, but plenty of tidbits to feed the race-starved masses in the heart of the winter offseason. Read More »

Unlucky Seven: Drivers Who Must Ramp It Up In 2013

Unlucky Seven: Drivers Who Must Ramp It Up In 2013

NASCAR is a sport driven by performance. What a driver accomplishes, or fails to accomplish, on the racetrack affects not only his personal gratification but his team's -- and even his sponsor's -- bottom line. Sure, some give more leeway than others, and some drivers are more likely to get the benefit of the doubt. But the bottom line is no different than that of any other employer. If a driver doesn't live up to expectations, eventually, his job could be on the line, his failure trumpeted not just by his team but by others. Race fans can be brutal, the media can be even more relentless, and there are plenty of drivers in the garage holding pink slips and looking for work. Don't overlook that personal desire to be competitive, either; sometimes, a driver's worst enemy in trying to fix weeks worth of failure is himself. Read More »

From Crazy To Crazy Good: MWR Is A Contender Now

From Crazy To Crazy Good: MWR Is A Contender Now

One year ago, people were wondering just how crazy Clint Bowyer was. Bowyer, who had three top-10 points finishes in six full seasons with Richard Childress Racing, had announced that he would leave RCR for a third Michael Waltrip Racing car in 2012. Not only was Bowyer facing an uphill battle by signing on with a brand-new team, he was making a move to an organization that had never had anyone finish higher than 16th in points throughout its existence. In fact, in those five years, the organization had just two wins, noted more for its failures (think: 2007 jet fuel disaster at Daytona) and its uncertain future. There were rumors of sponsors leaving, and even if they didn't, MWR was considered capable of no better than middle of the pack -- period. Read More »

Sprint’s Limits Mean Unlimited Falls Just Short

Sprint’s Limits Mean Unlimited Falls Just Short

NASCAR and Sprint announced a brand-new format for the season-opening exhibition race formerly known as the Budweiser Shootout this week. The race, rebranded the Sprint Unlimited (an admittedly shameless plug for the cellular carrier's unlimited data plans) will be similar to the old Shootout in its 75-lap, three-segment format, but from there what will happen is anybody's guess. Race fans will vote on everything from the length of each segment to the firesuit that Miss Sprint Cup will wear in Victory Lane (no, really). That includes a pit stop (or not) after the first segment, whether to eliminate the backmarkers after the second, and even how the field will be set. Read More »