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Five Points To Ponder

5 Points to Ponder: Yellow Flags, Timely Contracts and Lost Enthusiasm

5 Points to Ponder: Yellow Flags, Timely Contracts and Lost Enthusiasm

*ONE: Debris Will Decide This Championship* The Jimmie Johnson/Brad Keselowski finish this past Sunday was a battle well worth watching, and an example of strategies battling it out. Paul Wolfe’s decision to trust his driver’s intuition and go with two tires late even as the rest of the field took four would have panned out sans the rash of cautions to close the event. But there’s no doubting that Chad Knaus considered that in choosing to put four tires on the No. 48 car. And that extra rubber allowed Johnson to build his biggest lead of the Chase at the track that nearly cost him title number five two years ago. Read More »

5 Points to Ponder: Haloes, Half-a-Ride and an Historical Ending?

5 Points to Ponder: Haloes, Half-a-Ride and an Historical Ending?

*ONE: ESPN’s “Miracle” Grasping at Straws* Considering Martinsville was the hardest track left on the schedule for Brad Keselowski, given both his limited experience at the speedway and the strength of fellow title contender Jimmie Johnson’s setup at the paperclip oval, there was definitely a reason to celebrate finishing sixth on Sunday. Keselowski scored his career-best result there, kept heavyweight Johnson within two points despite giving up a win this late in the Chase, and even survived a late-race gamble to stay out that nearly backfired when all but two cars opted to take tires during the final cycle of pit stops. Having said that, ESPN’s post-race interview was certainly making Keselowski’s performance out to be a bit more…dramatic…than it was. It was called the "Miracle At Martinsville," all because Keselowski climbed from 32nd to finish sixth. Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Paving Potholes, Danica’s Dustup and Spec Cars

Five Points to Ponder: Paving Potholes, Danica’s Dustup and Spec Cars

*ONE: Shutdown for Repaves* Yes, it would pose an extreme economic hardship. Yes, it would require NASCAR to have a rotating schedule (shudder). But after watching the Midwest’s best impression of “Levigation 2005” render the Chase’s sixth race a never-ending train of blown tires, unassisted spin-outs and another fuel mileage race, I’d rather watch ISC’s facilities leave their racing surfaces alone until they crumble to powder than have them repave another oval. Goodyear’s tires were hard as rocks, yet they kept blowing out. Side-by-side racing caused spin-outs, the cars spun out by themselves, the yellow flags would not stop flying. Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Johnson’s Streak, Martin’s Mark and AJ’s Smile

Five Points to Ponder: Johnson’s Streak, Martin’s Mark and AJ’s Smile

*ONE: Jimmie Johnson Still Hasn’t Slipped Up* We’ll start with the cold hard 2012 Chase facts so far: Johnson has finished second at both Chicagoland and Loudon, fourth at the Monster Mile and third last Saturday night at Charlotte. Yes, perhaps predictably, Johnson got caught up in the big wreck at Talladega, but his 17th place finish was not too bad, all things considered, and certainly good when compared to his three other restrictor plate finishes of 35th, 36th and 42nd in 2012. Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: A Sad Season, Not-So Fab 4 and Captain’s Hope

Five Points to Ponder: A Sad Season, Not-So Fab 4 and Captain’s Hope

Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway will mark the midway point of the 2012 Chase, so since we’re at the serious end of the season I’m going to dive right in with this week’s edition of Five Points to Ponder. *ONE: Another "Pathetic" Season* Lost amidst the last lap chaos and carnage was a hard luck finish for Jamie McMurray. Having run upfront most of the afternoon, McMurray spun out through the grass with six to go, wrecked his car and wound up with a dismal 34th place finish. It was, in many ways, a microcosm of a horribly disappointing 2012 season for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. In 60 Sprint Cup starts, McMurray and teammate Juan Pablo Montoya have zero wins, zero top-5s and a paltry five top-10 finishes between them. On the preseason media tour, team owner Chip Ganassi described his team’s 2011 performance as pathetic. 2012 has been even worse, not to mention the recent loss of Bass Pro Shops as a primary sponsor for McMurray. Tony Stewart might very well be a better brand fit, but this was unquestionably a bitter blow to a team in need of a boost. Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: Debris, Double Duty and Detonations

Five Points to Ponder: Debris, Double Duty and Detonations

*ONE: The Joke That is the Debris Caution* It’s to the point that the TV cameras don’t even bother acting like they’re trying to find debris on the track. It’s no longer a surprise, but an expectation; a Sprint Cup race will be stopped on multiple occasions for debris on the track, whether or not anything is actually out there. Frankly, I’m amazed there hasn’t been more fan outrage and expressed frustration from the teams that their competitions are being interrupted whenever the sanctioning body gets the impression that the field is too strung out or ESPN needs a commercial break (yes, that’s me speculating, feel free to write in if you think of any other motivation.) Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: The Chase is Here…and In Like a Lamb

Five Points to Ponder: The Chase is Here…and In Like a Lamb

*ONE: They Lied…Neither Keselowski, Johnson “Showing their Hands” After Round 1* OK, it’s taking the statement a bit out of context. When Brad Keselowski was asked immediately after winning at Chicago whether or not he and Johnson were showing their hands, the question was posed as to whether either of them were sandbagging during the race’s final green-flag run. But in a larger sense, despite Keselowski’s insistence that both he and Johnson were giving it all they had (Johnson’s own post-race comments were in concurrence, as he noted the No. 2 simply outran them to the checkers) both drivers weren’t telling the whole story. They were both rather… subdued. Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: A Chase-tastic Edition Ready, Set, Chase

Five Points to Ponder: A Chase-tastic Edition Ready, Set, Chase

_Ladies and gentlemen, after 24 races of preamble we get down to the serious business of the season: The 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup. The regular season is in the books, the elite field of a dozen is set and ten races remain before we crown this year’s champion at Homestead-Miami on November 18th. There isn’t really any other place to start this week’s edition of Five Points to Ponder._ Read More »

Five Points to Ponder: NASCAR’s a Tough Sell, Labor Day or Not

Five Points to Ponder: NASCAR’s a Tough Sell, Labor Day or Not

*ONE: Pastrana’s Roush Deal the Latest Scramble for Cash* Travis Pastrana is returning to Nationwide Series racing this weekend in one of the most storied rides the series has to offer; the No. 60 of Roush Fenway Racing. Despite having scored no top 10 finishes in his brief NASCAR career, Pastrana is getting the seat that Trevor Bayne was pulled out of earlier this year due to sponsorship woes. Read More »