Race Weekend Central

Did You Notice? … A Wide Open Race, Ownership Issues And A Newcomer’s Impact

*Did You Notice?…* In the midst of Danica-mania, the most important point to be made about this year’s Daytona 500 is that there is no absolute favorite? Entering Speedweeks, I thought Hendrick Motorsports was poised to dominate; to an extent, they’ve flexed some muscle by putting five of their engines within the top six (only Trevor Bayne, third-quickest in the Wood Brothers Ford broke them up.) But Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited showcased some cracks in the armor. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s engine ran sour during the final segment, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon were swept up in an early wreck, and Kasey Kahne, not known as a plate specialist, was underwhelming at best. (Maybe he was focused on the half-marathon instead?)

Tech Talk: Slugger Labbe Breaks Down Prepping For The Daytona 500

_The Daytona 500 will start off the NASCAR points race season this Sunday, and the cars from the Richard Childress Racing stable are heading into the event feeling rather confident after one of their own, Kevin Harvick, scored the first win of the season in the Sprint Unlimited. Sitting on the pit box for Paul Menard this Sunday will be Slugger Labbe. The veteran crew chief from Saco, Maine has been in Daytona’s Victory Lane before as a crew chief with Michael Waltrip; now, he’s looking to repeat the feat and bring his driver a maiden plate race triumph. Tuesday morning, he gave Frontstretch his views on how things have unfolded so far in Speedweeks, along with a little insight into the Battle at the Beach._

Beyond The Cockpit: Gaughan Full Circle At Last

November 14, 2003. There are fewer than 40 laps to go in the then-Craftsman Truck Series season, and, as often seems to be the case in that series, several drivers are still in contention for the season title. But it’s sophomore driver Brendan Gaughan in control of the points as the laps wind down, leaving Travis Kvapil, Ted Musgrave, and Jack Sprague to try to be in position to capitalize on any mistake Gaughan might make, or to fight it out for second place. Gaughan, the 2002 Rookie of the Year, is already doing something the naysayers said was impossible — competing for the title with a family-owned, West Coast-based team. There are less than 40 laps left before he proves them wrong.

Side By Side: Was Terry Labonte Out Of Line In The Sprint Unlimited?

*This Week’s Question: Should Terry Labonte, or other drivers, be penalized for start-and-parking in a non-points race?*

_Who’s right? You decide!_

Tom Bowles, Editor-In-Chief: Texas Terry Took The Fan Base For A Ride… And Should Pay The Price

What’s the best way to make $15,700 a minute? The answer, I found out Saturday night is simple: qualify for a sport’s All-Star event, make the equivalent of a token appearance and then quit, fleecing the very people who came to see you compete.

Tweet N Greet

@KyleLarsonRacin: I honestly feel bad but I’m here to win. I’m a racer and won’t settle for anything less. @CEFalk40: Great job by the #40 team for an awesome race car. I love the bump and run, not the Bump, bump, drive through your LR tire and run. @StenhouseJr (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.): I’ve done what …

Read more

Categories Uncategorized

Marc’s NL Commentary

I’m asked often why I like NASCAR. I get questions like “Do they ever take right turns?”, and the less simple “How can you call it a sport? They’re just driving!” Here in the Northeast, motorsports doesn’t quite seem to have the foothold on popularity as it does elsewhere. Maybe it’s because our seasons are …

Read more

Categories Uncategorized

Short-Term Memory Loss: Earnhardt’s Concussion Issue Fading Into Background

If an NFL linebacker or an NHL enforcer came forward and admitted to having a handful of concussions, including two last year, and sought advice from you, what would you say to him?

Would you tell him that maybe it is time to hang up the helmet — call it a career? Would you tell him that as much as you love to watch him compete, there is more to life than sports? If you did want him to continue to compete, would you hold it against him if he suddenly retired?

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in NASCAR: Sprint Unlimited-Daytona 500 Edition

While much of America only begins to recover from winter, NASCAR is already off to a blazing start under the sun of Daytona Beach. With the Sprint Unlimited and qualifying for the Great American Race already in the books, the action continues to heat up in preparation for the much anticipated Budweiser Duels.

This Speedweeks edition of *Who’s Hot and Who’s Not* shows that many of the usual restrictor plate racing suspects have already emerged at the historic superspeedway leading up to Sunday’s main event, while other favorites have yet to thaw out. Here’s who’s on their way to a strong start for 2013…

Going By The Numbers: It’s Time For NASCAR’s New Plate Racing Head Honcho

They say Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is the modern-day master of the restrictor plate race.

At least, that’s what they said years ago. In droves. All the time. It wasn’t a matter of if Junior won, but when and how.

Nowadays, the reaction has tempered, but the sentiment remains, particularly when the series visits Daytona for the Great American Race (aka the Daytona 500). Little E is now more visible than usual, his name spoken in the broadcast booth as a driver to beat. And it’s not wrong to say that. Earnhardt Jr. does have two Daytona victories, along with six top-three finishes, though he hasn’t actually won at the track in a points race since 2004 (2008 brought a Gatorade Duel victory). Add to that five plate wins at Talladega, and you can see why people point to Junior as number one.

Categories Uncategorized

Five Points to Ponder: A Reigning Champ Flying Under The Radar & Daytona Dreams

No other professional sport has as short an offseason as NASCAR; it’s less than 90 days between the checkered flag flying at Homestead and the drop of the green for Sunday’s Daytona 500. So why does it feel like it gets longer and longer every year?

Especially this one. As you might imagine, I’m raring to go-go-go in 2013 for what, at least at first blush, might be one of the sport’s fantastic seasons with plenty of changes designed to bring back its competitive edge. Here’s five things to report on, as of now with Daytona continuing to unfold…