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Five Points To Ponder

Five Points to Ponder: Departures, the Rocket Goes Leffler, and Dillon’s Tarnished Crown

Five Points to Ponder: Departures, the Rocket Goes Leffler, and Dillon’s Tarnished Crown

*ONE: Who Can Blame Addington for (Possibly) Leaving?* Though it was dismissed as “pure rumors and speculation” by Steve Addington, the current crew chief for Kurt Busch and the No. 22 Penske Racing team, sources in the garage area at Charlotte tell Frontstretch otherwise...that these rumors indeed do have some weight to them. One can't blame Addington for aiming to play down any talk surrounding upcoming shuffles in team personnel; Busch may be 27 points out in the seventh position, but with Talladega still on the docket and Busch having proved strength on 1.5 mile ovals as well as Phoenix and the plate tracks, he's by no means out of the running. The last thing the No. 22 team needs right now is to be in the spotlight of Silly Season, with media ready to pounce on the story of how another Busch brother ran a race-winning crew chief away. Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Do or Die For Special K, Why Reed and Where’s The NNS?

Five Points to Ponder: Do or Die For Special K, Why Reed and Where’s The NNS?

*ONE: Is Brad Keselowski the Juan Pablo Montoya of the 2011 Chase?* Rewind back to 2009, and heading into the fall race at Charlotte Juan Pablo Montoya was the surprise of the Chase. Ninth in points after Richmond with no wins on the season, Montoya rattled off four consecutive top-5 finishes and led 184 laps over the course of those events; that left him just 58 points from Jimmie Johnson and Chase immortality. But Charlotte was the hiccup that broke the string and reduced the No. 42 team from contenders to pretenders; Montoya scored a top 5 the next week at a Martinsville short track that he's always run well at, followed by three finishes outside the top 35 in the final four races which sunk any title hopes he and the team had. Read More »

Five Points To Ponder: Ill-Advised Debuts, Hires And Tire Contracts

Five Points To Ponder: Ill-Advised Debuts, Hires And Tire Contracts

*ONE: An Ill-Advised Cup Debut for Austin Dillon* The current Truck Series points leader is slated for a full assault on the Nationwide Series championship in 2012, but he's also popped up on the entry list for this weekend's Cup race at Kansas, driving the No. 98 under Mike Curb's ownership banner. Though Dillon has only 11 career Nationwide Series starts under his belt, the unprepared for Cup argument really doesn't hold all that much water... the driver has been an established contender on the Truck circuit the last two seasons. Plus, even though the No. 98 is technically going to be a single-car team, making a partial schedule attempt, don't doubt for even a second that there won't be some Richard Childress Racing help all over that entry. Read More »

5 Points To Ponder: A Penske Rebellion? Chase Panic Over Nothing, And The Change We Should Have Seen

5 Points To Ponder: A Penske Rebellion? Chase Panic Over Nothing, And The Change We Should Have Seen

_Editor’s Note: Hey everyone! You’re not used to seeing me in this space, but our “tell it like it is” writer, Bryan Davis Keith is living a hard knock life these days: he got free tickets to the Foster The People concert last-minute. What does that one-day vacation mean for your life? A bit of a switch; I’ll fill in today while Bryan takes over our weekly staple, Did You Notice?, for this Wednesday’s edition on the website._ Loudon, New Hampshire left a sour taste in most fans’ mouths after fuel mileage dominated the NASCAR landscape Sunday. So as we dust off, ignore the Sunoco signs and try to move on, I’ll promise you this much regarding the column ahead: that’s the last you’ll hear about gas _or_ Tony Stewart’s “dead weight” _National Enquirer_ story. Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Dollars, Cents And The Lack Thereof

Five Points to Ponder: Dollars, Cents And The Lack Thereof

*ONE: Pit Call of the Day to Johnston, Truex?* When all was said and done on Monday, there wasn't much to celebrate statistically for the No. 56 team, coming home a mediocre 18th despite leading 14 laps (more than he's led the previous nine races combined). And those laps came late in the going, with Martin Truex Jr. going full bore as leaders Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and others were stroking the throttle, trying to conserve fuel to the finish. Truex and the No. 56 team knew full well they weren't making it to the checkers without stopping; they had played an earlier strategy card, banking on a caution to come with 20-30 to go that would force the hands of the pack to come in for tires if not gas. Read More »

5 Points To Ponder: Cookie Cutter Chase, Headgames and a Happier Harvick?

5 Points To Ponder: Cookie Cutter Chase, Headgames and a Happier Harvick?

With ten races to go, and the championship field officially whittled down from 43 to 12, the first round of the Chase makes its first trip to Chicagoland. Now that Richmond and all of its drama and action--Chase and non-Chase related--in the history books, we have time for this week's “Five Points To Ponder”. *ONE: The Chase Now Starts At Chicagoland* Ever since the inception of the Chase format, the playoffs have perennially started each and every year at New Hampshire. Not this year, as now Chicagoland gets their race date shuffled to the first race during the Chase. While New Hampshire is considered a “short track” by many, the series now opens its Chase at--surprise, surprise--yet another “cookie-cutter” track. Read More »

5 Pts To Ponder: Atlanta Loses To… Kansas?, Even Champs Get Shaky & “Chase Time”

5 Pts To Ponder: Atlanta Loses To… Kansas?, Even Champs Get Shaky & “Chase Time”

Well, we got there in the end after, perhaps, one of the longest rain delays in the sport’s illustrious history; and it was more than worth the wait with an absolute belter of a 500-mile race at one of the best tracks on the schedule. Watching two of the sports great drivers duel it out in a fight to the finish was an absolute pleasure, especially after a ridiculously long day at work – thank the good Lord above for DVRs. Now just one race remains before the Chase field is set (more later) but before we delve into the delights that are in store – short track style – under the lights this Saturday, I want to start with the venerable old Atlanta Motor Speedway. *ONE: One Race at Atlanta, Two at Kansas – A Sad Sign of the Times* Since the debut of Atlanta Motor Speedway on the Sprint Cup schedule some 51 years ago in July 1960 there have been a grand total of 104 total Sprint Cup races run at the mile-and-a-half track. Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: J.J. vs J.G., Plus The More Laps You Lead, The More You… Fail?

Five Points to Ponder: J.J. vs J.G., Plus The More Laps You Lead, The More You… Fail?

And then, there were two. Just a pair of races, or 725 laps, if you prefer, separate us from the setting of the final Chase field of twelve, the start of the stretch run of ten races that will decide this year's Sprint Cup championship. Both remaining events will be run under the lights - Atlanta this Sunday, Richmond the following Saturday - ensuring the final spots for the postseason, along with Sprint's inaugural $3 million Showdown will have their final chapters unfold in primetime. Each race will also be run at tracks that history suggests promote good racing, mostly every time even with this behemoth of a car. That may very well be a pleasant change, following Saturday night’s not-so-very thrilling race at Bristol that left a sour taste in our mouths (more on that later). But what last Saturday night did do, however, was congest the already confused Chase picture even further. It’s not a stretch to say we might see more swings and shifts of fate these next two weeks then we’ll see in the final ten races, especially if a certain someone decides to step things up in his habitual Chase fashion - which is where we’ll start this week’s edition of Five Points to Ponder. Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: When Drivers Attack!… With Awful Results, Engine Boost For… Busch? And Long Live The Rock

Five Points to Ponder: When Drivers Attack!… With Awful Results, Engine Boost For… Busch? And Long Live The Rock

*ONE: Attacking Drivers in Their Cars Has to Stop* I didn't start following this sport until 2003, but even in my first season of racing I saw my first major instance of a driver, angry at another driver, not even waiting until their opponent got out of the race car before going after them. It's hard to forget the whole episode of Jimmy Spencer reportedly wailing on Kurt Busch at Michigan, Busch still in his driver's seat. Then there was Tony Stewart going after Brian Vickers at the summer race in Daytona in 2004, Kyle Busch egging Steve Wallace on in a Nationwide race at Richmond to a point that Wallace grabbed his facemask, and now this weekend fans in Montreal saw the same Wallace have his hair pulled by Pastrana-Waltrip Racing crew chief post-race in the pits. Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: A “Twistie” Edition

Five Points to Ponder: A “Twistie” Edition

When the weather relented enough for us to actually get a race in on Monday morning the end product was a typically dramatic and tumultuous, crash-induced festival of road course racing. Mercifully, everyone emerged unscathed and it really is a testament to just how safe these cars are especially when you consider the ferocity of the wrecks for Denny Hamlin and also the Davids (Reutimann and Ragan.) Tempers, as is often the case with the twisties, were at a premium after the race with Boris Said and Greg Biffle getting involved in a little contretemps. It’s hard to defend Said too much; after all he’s raced just 43 Cup races in the past 13 years, plus he triggered the brutal wreck between the double zero and the number six cars... but it sure did make good television. The whole “someone text me his address” and “he’ll show up at a race with a black eye somewhere” were among many quotes that registered as instant classics; too bad Said won't be entered in the race at Michigan this weekend to keep this going. Aside from the post-race shenanigans, though there was plenty of on-track action worthy of discussion and we’ll start this week with Cup's Watkins Glen winner: Marcos Ambrose. Read More »