Race Weekend Central

Side By Side: Will Junior Retire As A Champion Or An Also-Ran?

_Welcome back to Side By Side. There are always two sides to every story, and we’re going to bring them both, right here, every week. Two of our staff writers will face off on an important racing question … feel free to tell us what you think in the weekly poll and also in the comments section below!_

*This Week’s Question:Will Dale Earnhardt, Jr. win a Sprint Cup championship before he retires?*

Kevin Rutherford, Senior Writer: Earnhardt, Jr. Will Win the Ultimate Prize

OK, I get it. Despite being NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver for a decade and having one of the most famous last names in all of auto racing, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. hasn’t exactly lived up to the throngs of cheers he’s received on race day.

Life At the 55: Jackman Tony Cardamone on Work-Life Balance, Rivalries and Injuries

_Frontstretch Readers – We know that you love our driver diary series, which gives you an inside look at the lives of NASCAR’s stars. Now, we are taking it to a whole new level! Fans love stock car racing for many reasons, one of which is that it is the ultimate team sport. While the driver ultimately hoists the trophy in Victory Lane, it is the blood, sweet and tears of men and women behind the scenes that ultimately drive the success of the team._

_New for 2013, Frontstretch is proud to introduce the “55 Team Diary” which will provide insights from different people who contribute to the accomplishments of Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 55 Toyota. Kicking off this series is Tony Cardamone, who serves as the jackman and mechanic on the Aaron’s Dream Machine and has become an integral part of the weekend road crew that travels to each event. We hope you enjoy this first installment of the 55 Team Diary, where Cardamone shares his thoughts on work/life balance and the latest headlines in NASCAR today, as told to our Tony Lumbis._

The Legendary Long Beach Grand Prix and How It Became a Signature Event

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is a strange creature, indeed. It’s been a marquee event on three different racing series; was twice essentially saved by Mario Andretti, who was merely doing what Mario Andretti did best; features a winner’s list that looks like a Who’s Who of Motorsports for the past 40 years; has a title sponsor that is an auto manufacturer who isn’t even involved in the racing; and was the swan song of the series that called it home for the longest time in one of the strangest twists of all.

This Sunday will be the 39th running of the event that was the brainchild of a local travel agent and race fan, Chris Pook. That makes it the longest running major street race held in North America. Pook initially tried the concept in 1975, as a Formula 5000 race and when that went well, attracting some 46,000 fans, he followed up six months later with a Formula One race that also was a moderate success.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 After Texas

Kyle Busch completed the second weekend sweep of the year, winning both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway. His win Saturday night was his first Sprint Cup victory at Texas, second of the season and 26th of his career. Kyle led a race-high 171 laps and took the top spot from Martin Truex, Jr. after a speedy final pit stop. It was heartbreak for Truex, who led 142 laps and was one of the strongest cars all night.

Numbers Game: Texas

Numbers Game: NRA 500 by Tom Bowles 0 Laps led by Roush Fenway Racing, the defending champion of the race (with driver Greg Biffle). Since Carl Edwards’ win at Phoenix, the three teams have combined to lead a grand total of one lap – and that was from Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (Las Vegas). 1 Lap …

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Five Points: Ranting About Fines, Kyle’s Win And Vickers’ Vigor

One of the things I enjoy the most about our current champion is that he is not afraid to speak his mind, giving his honest opinion. It’s a quality you need in a driver who is very much the face of the sport right now and, as the champion, I think it’s even more the case that Brad should say what he thinks. But when I first heard Keselowski’s forthright comments Saturday night, my immediate thought was that his two minutes was going to cost around $50,000 – especially when compared to Denny Hamlin’s much milder comments after the Phoenix race which resulted in a $25,000 penalty for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

But on “FOX Business News”:http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/2302666422001/nascars-green-effort/?playlist_id=937116503001 Monday morning, NASCAR head honcho Brian France confirmed that Brad would not be receiving a fine even though he noted, “I would certainly disagree with everything he said.” France went on to suggest that Keselowski was just blowing off steam.

Kansas: A Potential Turning Point for Struggling (Or Winning) Drivers

*turning point*
*1.* The point at which a very significant change occurs; a decisive moment.
*2.* Mathematics A maximum or minimum point on a curve.

The turning point of one’s season, if there is ever one at all, could conceivably occur anytime during a given year. However, in order for one’s season needing to be turned around at all, there has to have been much of a season at all to that point. A driver could have a really poor Daytona 500, for example but if everything afterward goes fairly swimmingly, that’s not a turnaround from poor results; that’s just a good season blemished by an early outlier. The same can apply to a rough end of the season after 34 or 35 spectacular showings.

Racing To The Point: NASCAR Kept Its Head In The Sand With The NRA

NASCAR stood its ground in the weeks following Texas Motor Speedway’s decision to sign the National Rifle Association as the primary sponsor for Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race.

The stance was simple: race entitlement sponsorships are signed by the track, not the sport’s governing body. So when Texas Motor Speedway announced that the NRA was going to sponsor a race seen by millions in the middle of a debate on gun control in Washington D.C., NASCAR effectively said, “It wasn’t us, it was them.”

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: Texas-Kansas Edition

After a week of debate centered on the NRA 500, nothing could prevent Kyle Busch from firing off the revolvers following a runaway win in Texas Saturday night. Controversy aside, Busch was one of several drivers to make headway in the Lone Star State.

As track temperatures fell, the No. 18 team was able to keep up with crucial adjustments, while other drivers weren’t as fortunate. Pit road miscues and ill-timed mechanical failures spelled disaster for several of his top rivals, leaving only Martin Truex, Jr. as the main opponent for Busch down the stretch – one he disposed of easily.

Oh, Go Fish! Tony Stewart’s Advice to NASCAR Fans

Author’s Note: Written mere hours before the explosions rocked the Boston Marathon, I penned this with a much lighter heart. However, the message is now even more timely. Live your life, my friends. Live it with joy and abandon, for we never know what tomorrow may bring. Hornaday bumped Bubba Wallace into the wall. NASCAR …

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Rowdy Rules the Lone Star State, Sweeps Weekend at Texas

by Justin Tucker Kyle Busch set the tone for this weekend’s NRA 500 on Friday Evening. Busch captured the pole with a track record speed of 196.299 MPH and to top the night off he captured the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 for his third consecutive Nationwide Series win. The only question that remained was whether …

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