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Five Points To Ponder

Five Points To Ponder: 10 To Go, 10 Winners And Home Dep-Off

Five Points To Ponder: 10 To Go, 10 Winners And Home Dep-Off

ONE: 10 TIL THE CHASE Just 10 races remain before the 2014 Chase begins and it’s an eclectic mix of tracks that make up the pre-big dance schedule. First up (and more on this one below) is a Saturday night trip to Kentucky Speedway. Then we head down to Daytona for a second straight night event on the high banks of arguably the sport’s most iconic track. Following the fireworks in Florida we head into a stretch of three flat ... Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Wine Country, Kasey Kahne’s Breakthrough & the World Cup

Five Points to Ponder: Wine Country, Kasey Kahne’s Breakthrough & the World Cup

ONE: Wine Country After the Irish Hills of Michigan, next up on the Sprint Cup Series slate is a trip out west to beautiful Sonoma and wine country. One of the two road courses on the schedule — the other being Watkins Glen — the chance to turn left as well as right brings up a whole slew of new challenges. For me, this is an extra special race because this is now my home track as after 13 years ... Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Tick Tock, Comes NASCAR’s Final Four And… Trash?

Five Points to Ponder: Tick Tock, Comes NASCAR’s Final Four And… Trash?

ONE: The Final Four Following Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s second win of the season at Pocono Raceway, we now have four drivers properly and officially locked into the Chase. Earnhardt, as mentioned, is one, with Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson the other three drivers with a pair of victories to date. Now, I know all year we’ve heard about “win and you’re in,” but given we still have 12 races and already 10 race winners, it’s very possible we ... Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Saturday Night Lights, New Arrivals and Triple Centuries

Five Points to Ponder: Saturday Night Lights, New Arrivals and Triple Centuries

ONE: Triple Century for Hamlin Denny Hamlin joined an exclusive club of drivers this past Sunday, not just for his first win on the high banks of Talladega Superspeedway but also by becoming only the fifth driver to win his 300th start at the Cup level – his 24th overall victory. The previous four were an impressive lot, both past champions and Hall of Famers. You had Ned Jarrett and Rusty Wallace along with two contemporaries of Hamlin: Kyle Busch ... Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Surprising Names Off To Solid NASCAR Starts

Five Points to Ponder: Surprising Names Off To Solid NASCAR Starts

ONE: What a Season So Far In the seven years I’ve been a weekly NASCAR columnist it is fair to say that there have been many more reasons to be critical than to be effusive. Sinking TV ratings, the car of sorrow, empty stands, mind-numbing races, Jimmie Johnson winning everything — you name it, and folks, to slightly paraphrase the industry parlance, have had at it. But this year feels altogether different. Perhaps it’s the changes in this year’s car, the tires ... Read More »

Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment

Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment

Time For a Breather: After a frenetic first eight weeks of the mammoth ten-month NASCAR season we get our first moment to breathe this weekend as the engines go silent in honor of Easter. And so far, even the strongest and most vociferous of critics would have trouble denying it’s been anything other than a fantastic start to the 2014 campaign. We’ve had seven winners in eight races, eight different pole sitters, three or four genuinely terrific races and only one real ... Read More »

Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR Report Card Time As Darlington Looms

Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR Report Card Time As Darlington Looms

ONE: The Lady In Black There are few tracks that quicken my blood quite like the venerable Lady in Black – Darlington Raceway. This will be race number 111 at the 1.336 egg shaped track, a record that stretches all the way back to 1950: the second ever season for NASCAR and just the 21st race in the history of the sport. That number in itself is appropriate since the all-time record winner at the track NASCARHall of Famer David Pearson won seven ... Read More »

Five Points To Ponder: Keselowski Rivalries, Titans, And Short Track Success

Five Points To Ponder: Keselowski Rivalries, Titans, And Short Track Success

ONE: WE’RE OFF TO A GOOD START Six races down, 30 to go and it’s fair to say we’re off to an excellent start in 2014. Three of the races have been classics — the Daytona 500, last Sunday’s race at Martinsville and the previous week at Auto Club Speedway — while Las Vegas and Bristol were both very watchable, exciting events. So far, only Phoenix was a stinker — unless of course you’re a fan of Kevin Harvick. We’ve also seen six different ... Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Five Winners, Fontana In The Chase And The Real Deal

Five Points to Ponder: Five Winners, Fontana In The Chase And The Real Deal

ONE: Five Winners in Five Weeks So that’s five winners in five weeks, with Kyle Busch joining Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards among those locked into the Chase — or so goes the conventional wisdom. But there’s a bit of trouble brewing with that philosophy. History had shown us that with 16 drivers guaranteed a spot in this year’s playoffs, chances are that come Richmond, we won’t have more than that number with a win. ... Read More »

Five Points To Ponder: Petty, Potential, And Do Wins Really Equal Chase Contention?

Five Points To Ponder: Petty, Potential, And Do Wins Really Equal Chase Contention?

ONE: Does a win really “get you in” the Chase? Since the new Chase format was announced, this January there’s been the sentiment that one win secures your spot in the field. NASCAR is taking a total of 16 drivers into the postseason with this new playoff format; it includes race winners, inside the top 30 in points, plus the top non race-winning drivers by points. Given past seasons, on average we’re looking at a dozen drivers, after the first 26 races ... Read More »