Race Weekend Central

The Critic’s Annex 110- NASCAR Now

Hello, race fans. Welcome back to the Critic’s Annex, where we take an additional look at motorsports-related programming. Last week, I was supposed to bring you a look at NASCAR Now. However, circumstances beyond my control prevented that from happening. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that ESPN has made it very difficult to watch the …

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NASCAR Mailbox: “Long”ing For Money You’re Rightfully Owed

So while relaxing at my home on Wednesday night, I was once again browsing Twitter whilst listening to a local country station. As I listened to Brad Paisley twang _Beat this Summer_ into my ears, a Twitter notification popped up on my screen, and then another, and another. What did they all say?

“They just showed Brad Keselowski on American Idol!” “OMG Brad K was just on American Idol!” “Holy cow that pizza was good…”

Ok, so that last one was just an interjection of someone’s evening meal. Still, though, it was a big deal to see the defending champion on one of the most watched TV shows on the air right now.

Tech Talk: Steve Letarte On Tires, Aerodynamics And Fontana

_Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is the second hottest driver on the Cup circuit right now, with top-10 finishes in all four of the races that have been held this season. Some pundits predicted that Earnhardt would do better with this new generation car than he did with the previous incarnation of Cup cars. Other people might just point to the man on top of his pit box. Earnhardt is starting his third season with Steve Letarte as his crew chief and the two seem to be hitting their stride as they begin the 2013 season. Letarte gave Frontstretch a few minutes to look back at Bristol and ahead to California._

Mike Neff: *Dale made some contact with the wall early on in the race at Bristol. He fell back for the remainder of that run but rebounded rather quickly after the next pit stop and ended up with his fourth top 10 of the season. Did the contact damage the car requiring adjustments to correct it or was it just cosmetic damage?*

Truckin’ Thursdays: Four Tracks That Belong On The Truck Series Schedule

Today, the Camping World Truck Series remains in the middle of a ridiculous six-week break and won’t return to the track until April 6th, and while the season will pick up as we get toward the summer months, by the time June rolls around, the series will have run just six of its 22 events. Compare that to five consecutive weeks of competition to close out the season, and it’s clear there’s a serious imbalance when it comes to scheduling.

With reports coming out late last season that NASCAR might consider allowing tracks without SAFER barriers on the schedule, fans and media alike became hopeful that the sanctioning body would restore some of the races dropped for 2012. And though the new schedule for this season has its bright spots – Eldora Raceway and the addition of a road course come to mind – the biggest problem still wasn’t addressed. With just 22 races on the schedule, drivers and fans once again are forced to endure breaks that last way too long between events, breaking momentum and challenging the attention span of even the most dedicated fans.

Fantasy Insider: Left Coast The Place To Right Your NASCAR Ship

The NASCAR Sprint Cup series heads to California for the first time this season with Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway. It may be showing up on the schedule at just the right time for a couple of traditionally top drivers who are off to slow starts. The race on the two-mile D-shaped oval is scheduled for 200 laps and with high speeds that will reach in the 200s, meaning that engine durability will be a factor too. Then of course, there’s the more simple way of trying to predict who will do well, by just looking at who is hot at the moment. Don’t out-think yourself when it comes to these picks this week.

Beyond the Cockpit: Mark Sibla and the Business of INDYCAR

_The IZOD IndyCar Series returns to the track for the start of the 2013 season this weekend in St. Petersburg, and Frontstretch is here to get you up to speed on your favorite open-wheelers. As part of our season preview coverage, IndyCar Editor Toni Montgomery recently had the chance to speak with Mark Sibla, Vice President of Partner Strategy for INDYCAR, about the state of the sport. Find out how INDYCAR copes with a challenging economy, offers exceptional value to their partners, and who Sibla thinks might be the breakout driver of the year._

Toni Montgomery, Frontstretch.com: Please tell us about your background. How and when did you start in INDYCAR? Did you grow up around racing or did you come from outside and if so, how did you end up in motorsports?

Did You Notice? … Who Has Something to Prove, Underdogs Overachieving and Quick Hits

*Did You Notice? …* A running theme among all the drivers succeeding this season? You’ve got Brian Vickers, in a part-time ride running eighth in his first 2013 start with Michael Waltrip Racing. There’s AJ Allmendinger, making spot starts for James Finch flirting with the top 10 every time out. On the luck rollercoaster sits Matt Kenseth, more emotional than perhaps ever before in surging to the front at Las Vegas. Even the point leader, Brad Keselowski, who spent the offseason feeling disrespected by critics, has roared out of the box with four top-5 finishes in the first four races.

Side By Side: Should Interlopers Cut Series Regulars a Break?

_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: After a late-race shove from Chris Buescher knocked him out of the top 5, Nationwide regular Justin Allgaier expressed his unhappiness with the way Buescher raced, saying, “Unfortunately when you’re not racing for points, when you’re racing those who are racing for points, it’s hard to sometimes not do something like that so you can prove yourself. But at the same time, it screws a lot of people up around you don’t even realize it.” Do drivers need to race the regulars who are racing for a title in a series differently than they might race the regulars in their own declared series?*

NASCAR Writer Power Rankings: Top 15 After Bristol I

Bristol is back! Bumping, banging, battle scars and post-race fights all made an appearance. Kasey Kahne did not let the disappointment of finishing second last week keep him down. He qualified second for the second week in a row, ran in the top 5 all day, led more than 100 laps and drove away from the field in the final 30 laps earning his first win of the 2013 season.

Open Wheel Wednesday: Shouldn’t IndyCar Be Hyping The Season A Bit More?

Can you hear that? It’s the faint din of the roar of the engines emanating from IndyCar. That’s right, the season is here. The teams just finished testing at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, and the green flag will be dropped on Sunday. And what are we to make of it?

NASCAR, for all of its bloated silliness, does one thing right with the beginning of their season: they get people interested. With the pseudo-All Star race (the Sprint Unlimited), Daytona qualifying, the Duels, the Truck and Nationwide races, NASCAR makes so much noise that it’s hard to avoid them as a fan of racing. Some might even be exhausted by the time the actual Daytona 500 comes around.