Saturday , February 6 2016
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Mirror Driving

Mirror Driving: Cinderella Stories, Talladega Trials, And Agitating Adjustments

*Tony Stewart won for the second week in a row at New Hampshire and took the points lead. Can Stewart sustain it and win the title from tenth place at Richmond, or is someone gearing up to beat the two-time champ in the stretch run?* Phil: Well, if this fuel mileage tilt holds out, you never know. Stewart has shown improved form lately, regardless of time of the race, though. I think he could do it. Beth: Actually, I feel like Smoke has a very real chance of being around come Homestead. With eight races remaining, he's got a combined 12 wins and double-digit top 10s at all but two of those tracks (Homestead and Kansas). Read More »

Mirror Driving: Surprises, Off Weeks, And Sorting Out Free Agency

*One race into the Chase, there were plenty of surprises, and the adage is that you can't win the Chase in the first week but you can lose it. Is anyone out of the running after Chicagoland?* Amy: I think Denny Hamlin is pretty much done. He's got to beat eleven drivers every week to get to the top. I think that in another week or two, 20 out will mean done. Beth: I don't know...I wouldn't count anyone out just yet, but Hamlin is in a deep hole. Another week like Chicagoland and I'll count out the No. 11 team, but anything can happen in the final nine races this season. Phil: I disagree with that statement, Amy. You'll still be in it through at least Talladega being 20 out. Denny Hamlin is probably out of it by now, but everyone else is still in play. No one else is more than 20 and change behind right now. Read More »

Mirror Driving: The Calm… Err, The Tornado Ahead Of The Chase Storm

*Kevin Harvick's fourth win at Richmond sends him into the Chase tied with Kyle Busch for the lead in points. Busch and Harvick each have four wins, but Busch was the points leader when the race ended and before the reset, while Harvick was in fifth place. Is it right for Busch to lose the lead based on wins, or should there be an additional bonus for the points leader who earned that advantage over 26 weeks of racing?* Phil: There should be something. Maybe a couple of extra points here or there. Amy: After the reset, the points leader, regardless of wins, should start with at least a 3-point lead over the next guy. It's ridiculous that they're that good all year and NASCAR just hands it to someone else. There should be a premium on winning, yes. But leading the points after 26 races deserves more than just the "Nice job, enjoy that tie (or 3rd, 4th, or 5th seed), have a nice life" they get from NASCAR now. Leading the points after 26 weeks is harder than winning a couple of races along the way. Read More »

Mirror Driving: Bickering Teammates, Flexible Schedules & Gordon’s Place In History

*Jeff Gordon won the AdvoCare 500, beating Jimmie Johnson on the final laps to take his 85th career win. Where does the win put Gordon among the sport's greats? And does this win put Gordon in the best position yet to win his fifth title?* Phil: Gordon is definitely in good position. Not necessarily the best position in the Chase era, but still pretty good. Plus, anyone who's watched NASCAR in the past 20 years would consider Gordon amongst the all-time greats. Amy: There is no question that Gordon is one of the finest ever to strap into a stock car. Today, in the closing laps, he reminded us why. IF I had to pick a Chase favorite right now, it would be Gordon. Summer: I liked what Richard Petty has to say. You compare a driver to those he raced with. I'm having a hard time jumping on the Gordon bandwagon right now, but he certainly is peaking at a great time. Read More »

Mirror Driving: Policing Pit Road, Cooling Off Keselowski And Playing By Too Many Rules

*There's an old adage that races are won and lost on pit road, and they proved the case at Bristol on Saturday night as Brad Keselowski was able to use the timing lines to his advantage on the final pit stop. Jeff Gordon complained about the perceived advantage, and NASCAR agreed to add more timing loops at the track next year. Is that adequate, or does NASCAR need to look at better ways to police pit road speed, as Gordon suggested?* Mike: No, more lines will be fine. I was surprised to learn that there were only three lines for all of the pit lane on the front and back. I think, if they double that number they should be fine. Amy: OK, first off, I had no issues with what happened Saturday as NOTHING illegal went on. But for the life of me I can not see why NASCAR can't just go to flat speeds and do away with the segments altogether. That's the only way to ensure fairness. Beth: That would work for me Amy, but like posting pit road speeds for everyone to see, we know that'll never happen. That said, no matter what NASCAR does, there are drivers that will use the rules to their advantage. It's just a matter that some drivers have that technique down while others often get burned by it. Read More »

Mirror Driving: Championship Favorites, Young Talent, And “Chasing” Road Courses

*Kyle Busch took over sole possession of the points lead in Michigan after Carl Edwards' engine woes. With his fourth win of the year, does Busch become the title favorite, or does that moniker still belong to Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, or someone else?* Mike: The favorite banner is still Jimmie Johnson's until he's beaten. I know people try and poo-poo their chances for a multitude of reasons but they're right there. That said, Busch should, at least at this point in time, be the favorite to take the title away if anyone is going to. Phil: Busch has been very strong recently, but Johnson is starting to come on once again. Edwards is falling off, even though his contract is done and signed now. Read More »

Mirror Driving: As Joe Gibbs Racing Turns, In The Name Of Safety And Points Racing

*Marcos Ambrose's first career win was nearly overshadowed by some nasty crashes at Watkins Glen. Does the track need a major safety overhaul?* Amy: Yes, but here's the thing. The major incidents in recent years have been on parts of the track that can't be reconfigured because of the temporary barriers. Phil: There are some nasty blunt angles on walls there. That kickout that Ragan originally hit was an issue last year. I wouldn't be surprised if that got revised. However, that kickout protects a crossover. Read More »

Mirror Driving: Silly Season, Kurt vs. Jimmie, Road Course Ringers and More

*Silly Season seems to be winding to an anti-climactic close as Carl Edwards re-signed with Roush Fenway while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Juan Pablo Montoya are close to deals to stay with their current teams. Should fans expect any late-season moves, and if so, who's most likely to be at the center of it?* Phil: I don't really expect anything at this point. We're already past August 1st. That's basically the deadline for the big stuff nowadays. We'll see some moves with the smaller teams, though. Mike: I don't think there will be any big names moving anywhere. I think the only driver that anyone is really still curious about is Brian Vickers. Read More »

Mirror Driving: Menard’s Win, Edwards’ Contract, A Silly Rule, More

*With his win at Indy, Paul Menard becomes the first entrant into Sprint's $3 million Summer Showdown Bonus program. He'll be joined by the winners of the next four races. Will anyone win the bonus, and is such a program relevant in the series today?* Phil: It's way too early to be able to tell if someone's going to win that bonus. However, such a program, if promoted correctly, can bring some fire to a part of the year that's all but a throwaway with the Chase in play. I don't think they're promoting it right, though. Amy: I think if anyone wins, it will be someone like Carl Edwards or Kyle Busch. I don't see Menard winning another race this year. It's an okay program, I suppose. I always liked the Winston Million better than the No Bull 5, which this is more like in nature. Read More »

Mirror Driving: Stripping A Win, Drawing A Crowd, And A Sponsor’s New Direction

*NASCAR stripped a win from Ryan Newman in the Modified division after inspection revealed an illegal spacer. NASCAR has long said they would not strip wins as it was confusing for race fans. Does this move represent a change or a double standard?* Amy: I think NASCAR just inadvertently said Modified fans are smarter than everyone else. Seriously, huge double standard. They'll happily strike wins in Modifieds and, I presume, other regional series, but not in the Big 3. Summer: Well since it's not a series that most fans follow all that closely, it really didn't seem to make a difference. It's not on TV very often. Read More »