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Five Points To Ponder

Five Points to Ponder: The Junior Rule, Wishing For a Short Track and Stenhouse Jr.’s Future

Five Points to Ponder: The Junior Rule, Wishing For a Short Track and Stenhouse Jr.’s Future

*ONE: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Made the All-Star Race…Was It Really That Hard?* There really wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that NASCAR’s most popular driver by miles was not going to race in Saturday night’s All-Star Race. The fan vote this season, with Earnhardt still riding a long winless streak and over a decade removed from his All-Star triumph as a rookie, was decided before it began. That wasn’t the only insurance policy that NASCAR took on the Showdown rules though; a little publicized rule change altered the fan vote, requiring the winner no longer be on the lead lap, but simply to have a car deemed race worthy by the race director (Absent a rule book, there were plenty asking rhetorically, or not so much, does that mean the car the fan vote winner started the race with? Or the other one they’ve got chilling in the hauler?) Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Keselowski Loses Credibility, Dwindling Entry Lists, And Ty’s Targets

Five Points to Ponder: Keselowski Loses Credibility, Dwindling Entry Lists, And Ty’s Targets

*ONE: Entries Dropping Like Flies Heading Into Summer* As Spring turns to Summer on the NASCAR circuit, dwindling sponsorship is making car count in each of its top three series an emerging issue. Scott Wimmer's home in the No. 40 Nationwide Series car for Key Motorsports has become a start-and-park ride, and whether the team will even continue to show up at the track remains to be seen (the driver for Iowa is listed as TBA, while radio communications by the team this past weekend at Dover suggest they might not even show up). On that same Nationwide Series circuit, the No. 79 of Tim Andrews and the 2nd Chance Race Parts team is nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, over on the Cup side, Robby Gordon's No. 7 car joined the start-and-park brigade at Dover, with no sign of any new backing to add to the SPEED Energy Drink money that's kept the team afloat this long. Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Smaller Crowds, Bigger Fights, Ugly Words Left For NASCAR To Chew On

Five Points to Ponder: Smaller Crowds, Bigger Fights, Ugly Words Left For NASCAR To Chew On

*ONE: Was Attention Towards Regan Smith Hurt More by Harvick / Busch... or Trevor Bayne?* Turns out Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick spoiled the fun for more than just themselves Saturday night. With throngs of media waiting outside the NASCAR hauler for word on what was going on between Rowdy and Happy, Regan Smith's dramatic upset win at Darlington stunningly took a back seat. Harvick himself told reporters outside NASCAR's “oval office” that it was a shame they were covering his latest dustup instead of talking to Smith about his accomplishment. Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Frustration vs. Venom, Start-And-Park vs. Start-And-Back

*ONE: The Fine Line Between Frustration and Venom on Display* Outside of Ryan Newman and Juan Pablo Montoya’s latest excuse for a dustup, the three hottest drivers under the collar at Richmond this past weekend, at least on the radio, were Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. Johnson’s angst was evident early; with the No. 48 team mired nearly outside the top 30 and the car handling like junk, the usually methodical pairing of Johnson and Chad Knaus was sounding strained, with the two trading exasperated remarks about adjustments and pit strategy. But for all the exasperation, all the frustration, never once did the two go for each other’s throats. The frustration stayed on their combined performance and never disintegrated into attack…and low and behold, when the night was said and done, the No. 48 team came from nowhere to score a top 10 finish. Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Damaging Debris, Double Duty Disasters, And Hendrick’s New Connection

Five Points to Ponder: Damaging Debris, Double Duty Disasters, And Hendrick’s New Connection

*ONE: Turner Motorsports' New Prospect Is...a Hendrick Retread?* Filling out Turner Motorsports' No. 32 truck this year is going to be... Blake Feese? Fans should be forgiven if they've forgotten that name; Feese drove one race for Billy Ballew's Truck team in 2009, but he's better known for being part of a tandem of drivers, along with Boston Reid that took over Kyle Busch's No. 5 Nationwide ride in 2005 for Hendrick Motorsports. By springtime of that year, he was ousted after two months of wrecks and mediocre results. So how in the world did Feese, who between ARCA and the Truck Series has run only five races in the last five years, somehow get the call to fill a driver development seat with a team that's far from slouch? Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Multiple Yellow Issues, Fan Woes, And ARCA Goes Old School

Five Points to Ponder: Multiple Yellow Issues, Fan Woes, And ARCA Goes Old School

*ONE: NASCAR Threw Saturday's Yellow Way Too Early* There's no denying that Mike Wallace's flip to end Saturday's Aaron's 312 was both a crushing disappointment for Nationwide Series regular fans and a scary moment all wrapped into one. But for NASCAR to end that race nearly half a lap short of the finish as a result, with the field having already passed the wreck in turn 3 was both a disservice to the fans and competitors... and completely unnecessary. Read More »

5 Points to Ponder: Which RCR Will Show Up?, Cole Whitt’s Coming, And Do Or Die For…

5 Points to Ponder: Which RCR Will Show Up?, Cole Whitt’s Coming, And Do Or Die For…

*ONE: Richard Childress Racing This Weekend's Biggest Question Mark* Fresh off a second-place finish that moved him back into the top 12 in points and saw the No. 33 car one misjudged pass on the frontstretch away from a likely win at Texas, Clint Bowyer has managed to right a ship that appeared sunk the first few races of the season. In fact, his recovery could apply to all of Richard Childress Racing. You couple that with Paul Menard's top-5 showing, Jeff Burton actually finishing a race without damage, plus Kevin Harvick winning the two races prior to Texas and RCR has been looking far more like their 2010 selves for the better part of the last month. Surprisingly, though, the same Talladega oval that the organization has long enjoyed success on, both before and after Dale Earnhardt, may prove to be a bump in the road of that recovery. Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Rowdy’s Coup, A Dying Cup Team And Why Norm Benning Made The News

Five Points to Ponder: Rowdy’s Coup, A Dying Cup Team And Why Norm Benning Made The News

*ONE: Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Runner-Up Result Has No Negative* Dale Jr. came oh so close to ending the longest losing streak of his career at Martinsville this past Sunday, falling only a few laps short to a red hot Kevin Harvick. And for as stellar a result as it was for the No. 88 team, any observer of Jr. and his post-race reactions would be very correct in expressing concern over his emotional state of mind following the event. Despite his remarks, Jr. thought that Martinsville was going to be the place the losing stopped. He was convinced, after bumping Kyle Busch from the lead, that he had this race won. Speaking fast, Earnhardt was doing everything he could to hold back his emotions. Read More »

5 Pts to Ponder: Edwards the Wise, Roush the Shorthanded & Dollars For Dillons

5 Pts to Ponder: Edwards the Wise, Roush the Shorthanded & Dollars For Dillons

*ONE: Edwards Wise to Hold Out on Contract Talks* When asked about renegotiating with Roush Fenway Racing, where he's been the full-time driver of the No. 99 car since midway through the 2004 season, Carl Edwards played his cool. “We'll just see how it plays out,” he said, noting that he didn't want talk of contracts and the business side of the sport distracting him from a stellar 2011 campaign that has his Ford team sitting atop the Sprint Cup point standings. Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Empty Seats And No Bump & Run? Are We In Bristol Anymore?

Five Points to Ponder: Empty Seats And No Bump & Run? Are We In Bristol Anymore?

*ONE: Bristol Goes From Coliseum to Cavern* Estimates that 120,000 fans were in the stands at Bristol Motor Speedway this past Sunday were gross exaggerations. Maybe, between the Nationwide and Cup races combined, there were 120,000-130,000. But any talk of six digit attendance figures for this event are figments of someone's imagination... that, or the usual deliberate attempt to conceal just how many people stayed home. The downturn from just a year ago is shocking. Taking a conservative estimate of 125,000 for last year's spring race, and comparing it to the 80,000 or so that I believed were present on Sunday... that's a one-year decline of 36%. It was depressing to witness in person, especially considering the history of this track, whose waiting list for suites and tickets just a few seasons ago rivaled even the Washington Redskins' season ticket list in their heyday. Read More »