Race Weekend Central

Johnny Sauter Penalized For Fuel Cell Infraction At Kansas

Thorsport Racing, along with former Truck Series point leader Johnny Sauter are reeling this Wednesday after a major penalty involving their No. 98 Toyota. On Wednesday, NASCAR announced the team was fined $10,000, crew chief Joel Shear has been suspended for four races and 25 owner points were taken away as a result of a …

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Did You Notice? … “Cheating” Equals Credibility Crisis, Who NASCAR’s Chasing And Dodging Brands

*Did You Notice?…* One of the biggest statements from Kansas has been swept under the radar… until now? Richard Petty, when interviewed matter-of-factly Friday suggested that someone had to snitch on Penske Racing in order for them to be facing the 500-foot pool of water they’re drowning in now. It was more than a coincidence, said the King for NASCAR to pick apart their cars, pre-race inspection all of a sudden and then throw the hammer down in terms of suspending everyone but the waterboy in that organization for six weeks.

“They passed two or three inspections and hadn’t been caught,” he said of the Texas incident, going on to say that based on past experience, it’s clear as day someone “must” have alerted authorities about suspect rear end housings.

Side By Side: Do NASCAR Drivers Need To Do More For Fans?

_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: Do NASCAR drivers need to be more accessible to their fans on race weekends?*

Amy Henderson, Managing Editor: Drivers Can And Should Do More

Racing, like all professional sports, owes its very existence to fans. If nobody watched, if nobody cared, NASCAR would not exist, and stock car racing would not have progressed from weekend contests in someone’s hay field to see whose souped-up machine could outrun the other. There would be no racetracks that seat thousands upon thousands, no souvenir trailers hawking brightly-colored wares, no handsome paychecks at the end of the race. The fans are everything.

Happiness Is… Ignoring Chores

This past weekend featured another slew of racing, with seemingly everybody in action save for the Nationwide Series. So if a person was looking to avoid things like housework, chores, beautiful weather, or anything else productive, there was enough side-by-side competition to watch in order to do just that. For all of the petrol burned, tires worn, and oil laid to waste, a racing weekend like this one held a bit of something for everyone. And for a person foolhardy enough to try and take it all in, well, that’s just bliss.

Beyond the Cockpit: David Ragan on Kansas, Small Teams and Big Sponsors

_When you think of David Ragan, your mind may immediately turn to the infamous “dart without feathers” moniker Tony Stewart bestowed upon Ragan in his rookie year. However, there is much more to the Georgia driver than an incident that took place back in 2007. His tenure with Roush Fenway Racing lasted from 2007 through 2011, but was rarely successful, resulting in only one win, and Ragan never finished any higher than 13th in points. After losing a full-time sponsor in UPS, Ragan left RFR and found a new home at Front Row Motorsports. Last year was his first full season with the team, and they earned a total of one top 5, two top 10s, and finished 28th in the standings, a baseline they have hoped to build on in 2013. After eight races, it’s been a tough road thus far – the No. 34 car is still searching for its first top-10 result – but Ragan still feels that his team can and will improve._

_Ragan sat down with Summer Bedgood over the weekend in Kansas to discuss the ups and downs of racing in the Sprint Cup Series._

Open Wheel Wednesday: Whither Worldwide Indy

IndyCar just held one of its premier events, the kind that is supposed to pull in fans and keep its name close to the top of the headlines. The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was an interesting, entertaining, and compelling race, one that included the second first-time winner this year in the series, Takuma Sato. What’s not to like?

The NBC Sports Network has, thus far, done a fantastic job of producing and airing the three races this season. The effort put into production is high, the commentary solid, and the overall product sound. Add in the fact that the network is even airing ads for the series during its F1 telecasts, and it’s clear to see that NBCSN is finally giving the series some love. Again, what’s not to like?

NASCAR Writer Power Rankings: Top 15 After Kansas-I

It looks like the move to Joe Gibbs Racing has rejuvenated Matt Kenseth’s career. He is the league leader in laps led (482) and just won his second race of the season…and we’re only eight races into the year. To put it in perspective, Kenseth only had three wins in the entire 2012 season. There are no guarantees, but it looks like he is on his way to many more wins this season.

WTF Wednesday

WTF Wednesday Denny Hamlin’s Rush To Return To Racing Could Spell Trouble By: Ellen Richardson Denny Hamlin has high hopes to make his return to racing at his home track in Richmond this weekend. According to the Associated Press, Denny Hamlin could hop back into the No. 11 FedEx Toyota, for the Toyota Owners 400, …

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Keeping Priorities Straight

NASCAR drivers – like any other kind of professional athlete – do not owe their fans either time or attention during race weekends. The argument has always been that without the fans, there’d be no NASCAR, but that’s not really the case. Sure, there was a time during the sport’s infancy when fans needed to …

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What To Watch In NASCAR: Tuesday 4/23/13

– As usual, it’s penalty day in NASCAR and the biggest bulls-eye lies on the No. 98 Truck driven by Johnny Sauter. The current series point leader, Sauter’s fuel cell was confiscated following pre-race inspection in Kansas, a move that’s led to fines, penalties, and crew chief suspensions in the past. Sauter is currently 12 …

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Five Points To Ponder: Stenhouse Amongst Sprint Cup Trio Hitting The Ground Running

Much of the talk in the early part of this week has been of the seamless transition of Matt Kenseth to Joe Gibbs Racing following his ruthlessly dominant second win of the fledgling season – and rightly so. Kenseth has looked mighty impressive showing the form you would expect from a champion driver of his caliber, leading multiple laps at six of the eight circuits we’ve visited to date.

However, lost just a little in all the hype for the driver of the No. 20 car is another great third-place finish for old “Five Time” Jimmie Johnson, who now leads the standings by 37 – nearly a full race’s worth of points. In addition, Double J has finishes of first (Martinsville), second (Phoenix) and sixth (Texas) at the three other Chase tracks we’ve run at thus far. Johnson’s two solitary finishes outside the top six came at Fontana (12th) and at Bristol (22nd), where he blew a tire. Those are tracks that won’t matter in the long run, though.