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Five Points To Ponder

Five Points to Ponder: Kentucky Non-Surprise, Zaxby’s, and Denny

*ONE: There will be a Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway in 2011* Let's all stop kidding ourselves, this one was never in doubt. Bruton Smith did not buy the Kentucky Speedway without knowing and knowing full well that the anti-trust lawsuit brought upon NASCAR by the facility's former ownership was going to get settled. He didn't spend millions of dollars on cosmetic and infrastructure improvements to put on a better Nationwide Series race; that's a safe wager. Read More »

5 Points To Ponder: Labonte Spin Intentional?, Underdog Spotlight, And Too Silly, Too Early

*ONE: New drivers stole the spotlight this weekend - especially in Nationwide* Races at Talladega Superspeedway have a long history of equalizing competition. And when parity gets the nod over power, we get to see some drivers running up front that do not ordinarily do so. One example was Parker Kligerman in the Smith Ironworks No. 42 for Team 42 Racing. As "Frontstretch found out a couple of weeks ago,":http://www.frontstretch.com/pallaway/29135/ this Nationwide Series team was not even originally planning to attempt Talladega. However, due to the rainout at Daytona, the team failed to qualify, leaving them with a squeaky clean restrictor plate car that was suddenly on the verge of becoming obsolete. Read More »

5 Points to Ponder: Cup Be Damned for the Shrub, JRM’s Ego, and Mears’ Ride?

*ONE: Does Kyle Busch Really Want a Cup Title?* It was a familiar sight in Nationwide Series Victory Lane on Monday evening. Kyle Busch, fresh off his fifth consecutive win at Texas Motor Speedway, took that series’ points lead … and now, he wants to run for a second consecutive Nationwide title. Busch, in not so many words, made it very clear in his post-race press conference that he is raring to go for another full-time NNS campaign, and so is the No. 18 team, according to team owner Joe Gibbs. Read More »

5 Phoenix Points to Ponder: Montoya’s Miracle Comeback?, Gutsy Hamlin, More

*What’s the deal with John Wes Townley?* As reported by "the Frontstretch this week,":http://frontstretch.com/tbowles/29053/ John Wes Townley was not released by Richard Childress Racing but instead put in “time out” for the near future after a poor start to 2010. The move itself is somewhat of a surprise, as sponsor Zaxby’s came over to RCR with Townley as a package deal. It's the sole reason he landed with an organization far superior to his talent. Sadly, Townley's struggles behind the wheel come as a surprise to no one. His five runs this year included, Townley has started 34 Nationwide races with his total number of top 10s being… zero. Over that span, his total number of DNQs is 10. Read More »

5 Points to Ponder: Tough Crowd In Music City, NASCAR’s New Villain, More

*ONE: The Cup guys were at Nashville...but where was the crowd?* For as long as I've been following the sport, the perpetual justification floated out there for Sprint Cup drivers to spend the early parts of their weekends massacring NASCAR's development series is that their star power is needed to bring in the crowds and the sponsor dollars. This weekend at Nashville, the battle at the front of the field resembled a Cup race more than anything else, with that series' regulars leading 205 of the 225 laps run. Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Earnhardt’s Error, Biffle Steady, Hamlin Heroics…

Turns out race six of the 2010 season was worth the wait after all, with Denny Hamlin recording an absolutely improbable victory. Pitting from the lead, with less than ten laps to go, Hamlin bullied and harried his way from ninth all the way to the front in a manner reminiscent of his win at Pocono last year, when another late race surge also saw him take the checkers. But it wasn't all fun and games for a man with major surgery less than 48 hours away. As Hamlin exited his car in Victory Lane, he noticeably winced and, when asked, admitted his leg “hurts.” And that’s precisely where we’ll start this week’s Martinsville edition of Five Points to Ponder, ahead of this second off-week of the season... Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Johnson Stays, Gordon Goes, and Penske’s Back

*ONE: Outsider perspectives are paying big dividends for Penske Racing* Outside of the restrictor plate tracks, it's been a long time since both the No. 2 and No. 12 cars were contending for the win on the same day. But that was the case Sunday at Bristol, with Kurt Busch leading over half of the 500 laps run while Brad Keselowski led twice and managed to stay up front after early pit strategy for track position paid off. At this point in the season, the No. 2 car is looking every bit the Chase contender that it was in 2009, and the No. 12 over the last two weeks has looked the best it has since Ryan Newman wheeled it to the 2008 Daytona 500 title. Read More »

Five Points To Ponder: The Busch Brothers Focus On Kicking Carl-Brad Off Center Stage

Isn’t it strange how for a series that has the longest season of any of the major U.S. professional sports, an off week feels like an eternity? So, it’s with much relish and gusto that I’m looking forward to Sunday’s 500-lapper at Thunder Valley, especially after three straight weeks of intermediate cookie-cutter tracks. And that’s where we’ll start this off-week version of Five Points To Ponder... *Short Trackitis – then another break:* It sure is great to see Bristol and Martinsville on the immediate schedule: two of the best tracks on the Sprint Cup schedule today. Read More »

Five Points To Ponder: Atlanta Payback, Unusual Suspects Up Front, And Jimmie Didn’t Win (Shocker)

For my money – what little of it I have – the Kobalt Tools 500 at the venerable old Atlanta Motor Speedway was a pretty solid race. It wasn’t an instant classic, sure, but then again it wasn’t bad either, and after a couple of predictable weeks at Fontana and Las Vegas it was terrific to see someone not named “Johnson” head to Victory Lane. Okay, Kurt Busch is marginally more popular than a severe case of swine flu but change, as they say, is always a good thing and it was nice to see Dodge break up the Chevy dominance we’ve seen in these early weeks of 2010. It’s a shame, then, that we’re headed into an off-week so soon, but such are the quirks of the scheduling gurus. At least we’ve got Bristol and Martinsville to look forward to in the coming weeks. Although I realize this topic will be covered in more extensive detail elsewhere on the site I’ll start with the marquee incident of the weekend... Read More »

Five Points To Ponder: Juggernaut Jimmie, Mediocre Montoya, and “Eh, Not again” Earnhardt

It wasn’t exactly the greatest race this past Sunday in Vegas, and "a quick glance at Matt McLaughlin’s fantastic recap":http://www.frontstretch.com/mmclaughlin/28737/ highlights this point graphically, with all his usual aplomb. A rating of just one, out of a possible six, was in my opinion about right in a race that for long stretches lacked any real excitement. It’s a shame, all told, that we’ve had such a so-so start to the season, between pothole-gate and back-to-back wins from a four-time Champ that's increasingly unpopular with NASCAR's fan base. If Jimmie J continues to destroy the field with such apparent ease - not to mention a healthy dollop of luck, we might not even need a Chase, as he’ll be so far ahead with all the bonus points he's already accrued. The relentless, unending dominance of Jimmie J is where we’ll start this week’s edition of Five Points to Ponder… Read More »