Race Weekend Central

Pace Laps: No April Foolin’ Here… Just The News

*Sprint Cup: Clarifying The Hamlin Substitution Mess* How crazy has it been to put a replacement driver in the Fex Ex Toyota? Full-time regular Denny Hamlin tweeted on Friday, “This just in.. I’ll give away the Driver’s Seat to the #11 car at ‘Dega to one of my followers.”

All joking aside, it has been difficult to follow, a story that’s been evolving since the first hint of a long-term injury last Monday morning. So for those who haven’t been on it, 24/7 here’s where the situation stands now for each driver involved.

Turn Back the Clock: 1999 Goody’s Body Pain 500

Hello, race fans, and welcome back to Turning Back the Clock, where I look back at classic races from the track that the Sprint Cup Series will be racing at each week. This week, the Sprint Cup Series is at Martinsville Speedway, the infamous little “paper clip” shaped .526 mile oval and the lone remaining …

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Mark Martin Tabbed As Sub For Denny Hamlin

Joe Gibbs Racing announced on Thursday evening that Mark Martin will pilot the Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 FedEx Toyota while he recovers from an L1 Compression Fracture suffered at Auto Club Speedway last weekend. Martin had originally been scheduled to pilot the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 55 Toyota for four of the next six races; …

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Nuts for Nationwide: The Highs and Lows of 2013 (So Far)

Just five races into the NASCAR Nationwide Series season, we’ve already learned some things–some are important, some you probably couldn’t care less about. Do we know the clear front runners for the title yet? Maybe, but there’s also still a lot of season left to count some drivers out this early in the year. Do we have a good feel on what the 2013 season as a whole will be remembered for? Again, too early, but a few common themes are emerging.

Some of these common themes can be construed as positives. Some, on the other hand, leave us scratching our head or banging said head on a table in frustration. Either way, the 2013 Nationwide season is shaping up to be an interesting year, though it’s unclear as to whether or not it will remembered fondly, if at all. We might remember it as the year Kyle Larson became a household name, or a season of redemption for former Cup drivers like Elliott Sadler, Brian Vickers, Regan Smith and Sam Hornish, Jr.

Around The Block: Stewart Called This One Wrong

You saw it with your own eyes on Sunday: the block, the brawl, the bad blood, and the bleeped-out tirade afterward. Now, a few days later, the dust has settled after a wild finish at Fontana—Fontana!—and the heart of the matter becomes clear: it began, on Sunday, with a block.

Really, what went down in California was a perfect storm of two separate incidents at the center of which was one Joey Logano. Logano threw the block in question, and then went on to race Denny Hamlin as hard as two drivers can race for the win-an incident which ended with Hamlin in the hospital with a broken back.

Formula 1 Friday: The Champ Starts A War

*team (n)* – 1) a group of people organized to work together 2) a group of players forming one of the sides in a sporting contest

*mate (n)* – a friend

We mentioned in last week’s column about how we’d try and look in more depth this week at the various problems facing McLaren currently (and consistently over the past few years). However, when the weeks are split by races, there’s always the chance that some unsuspecting event will sneak up on us and send the best laid plans awry…….and so it has come about with this very column.

Voices From the Cheap Seats: A Waltrip Makes Sense While France… Not So Much

In what could be the grandest lie since a presidential campaign that won with the promise of “Change,” NASCAR CEO Brian France claims his views to be “crystal clear” when it comes to where the line in the sand is drawn concerning driver’s rights to speak their minds and more specifically, the decision to fine Denny Hamlin a couple of weeks ago.

“There’s always going to be, when we make decisions that are not black and white per se, we’re always going to have people all over the organization that may not have made that call,” France said. “But I did. I’m crystal clear with everybody about where the line is, what we can accept, and about how the sport is going today.

Four Burning Questions: Hamlin’s Replacement and Dale Jr’.s Dream Season

It’s a very rare occasion this week in the NASCAR Sprint Cup season. The stars and cars of the Sprint Cup Series are currently enjoying a very rare off week, as there will be no race this Sunday. Of course, just because the teams have a week off doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to talk about. In case you missed it, one of the best NASCAR races in the past decade happened last week at….Auto Club Speedway of all places. I will gladly eat the words I wrote in this very column last week in which I ripped the 2 mile facility for being one of the least raceable tracks on the circuit. I was quite wrong, and anyone who watched the race knows why. As per usual, we have much to cover this week, as we have a star driver out for the next 6 weeks, other drivers feuding, and many more storylines to liven up this rare week off.

Frontstretch Foto Funnies: Holy $#!&, Slow Down!

_Welcome to the Frontstretch Foto Funnies! Ever see a photo that’s just begging for a caption? We see them all the time! Each week, we’ll pick a few, then let our staff give it their best shot. We’ll post the best ones for you!_

_Want to get in on the fun? Each week, we’ll also designate one of the photos for fan captions. Leave your best ideas in the comments below or on our “Facebook page.”:https://www.facebook.com/Frontstretch We’ll choose our favorite one and reprint the photo next week with its new caption!…_

Kyle Larson Driver Diary: Daytona’s Finish, Busy Schedules And Nationwide Racing

It’s been a fairly busy start to the 2013 racing season for me. As I’m sure you know, I was involved in a pretty exciting and crazy finish to the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona. I was getting pushed from behind to the finish line and when the cars in front of me started wrecking, there wasn’t much I could do. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and then when I was hit behind the final time, my car went airborne into the fence. It was a scary wreck, primarily because of the debris getting into the stands. We never want to see any of our fans get injured and I’m glad that everyone who was injured seems to be getting better. From my seat in the wreck, it certainly hurt but these cars are so safe and we’re so protected it didn’t hurt near as much as several of my sprint car wrecks. It’s a testament to my Turner Scott Motorsports team for all the hard work they put into these cars to make me safe, and I was able to walk away and live to race another day.

NASCAR Fan Q & A: How Much Does Media Really Influence Viewership?

It seems like only yesterday, we were yearning for the racing season to start again. The offseason had dragged on for a long time and we were ready to hear the roar of the engines once more. Now, we have upon us our first off week. No Trucks. No Nationwide. No Cup. That’s probably a good thing, considering that it gives us all a chance to catch our breaths after Fontana.

Still, though, this break seems a little too soon — and too wide-ranging. Couldn’t we at least get an exhibition race? A Saturday shootout? Something? Anything? Come on, NASCAR, at least give us engines _somewhere_ on Easter weekend!