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Holding A Pretty Wheel

Rock and a Hard Place: What Do We Really Want?

Sometimes I feel sorry for NASCAR. Yes, you read that right. I feel sorry for NASCAR, the sanctioning body that has given us such gems as the Chase, the top 35 rule, and stock cars that are about as stock as the $20 watch you purchased in the subway station from some guy named Tiny is from an actual Rolex. They have my pity. After hearing race fans and media malign the racing at Talladega on Sunday (a race that featured 88 lead changes at the line and many more around the track), I can’t help but wonder what, exactly, race viewers _want_ these days.

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Top Of the Heap or King of the Mountain? Four Who Would Be Superstars In Other Series

If the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series represents the 43 best stock car drivers in the country, then is it any wonder that most drivers want to race in that series these days? You can’t blame any of them for wanting to be in the Cup Series-it’s got all the money, all the prestige, all the fans. But ever look at a driver and wonder why he’s in the series? You know the guy: struggling in anonymity, often for a backmarker position, barely shown on TV unless he’s getting lapped or in a wreck, and even then it’s a passing remark at best. And in some cases, the driver could be a rock star-if only he was racing in a different series.

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And Another Thing…

It’s been a quiet week by NASCAR standards-no major controversy, no big drama. In short, nothing particularly interesting. Certainly nothing earth-shattering enough to devote an entire column to. But there are a few odds and ends in my desk that I need to clear out before they fester. So here you have it-clearing out the desk, post-Martinsville edition. *Were the people who said that Dale Jr. laid down at Martinsville watching the same race I was?* Seriously? Because I didn’t see a driver lay down. I saw a driver do everything he could to win a race and come up short to superior equipment. I saw a driver in his postrace interview who was disappointed in second place. He knew second place is the first loser-it was written all over his face. But the closing laps were certainly not driven by a driver who didn’t care. Earnhardt was able to get to Kyle Busch late and put the bumper to him to move Busch out of the groove and take the lead.

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Is NASCAR Ready to Dethrone the King?

There has been considerable debate lately about wins: which ones should count toward the record books and which should not. At the center of it all is Kyle Busch, who scored his 91st NASCAR touring victory at Fontana and who has made it a personal goal to try to equal Richard Petty’s storied mark of 200. That pursuit ignites a certain controversy, especially as this march nears the halfway point of his stated goal at just 25 years old - making that pursuit more realistic than it ever has been. But should all touring series wins be counted when looking at a driver’s career total?

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Big Six: Kroger 250

*Who…gets my shoutout of the race?* From the Where Did He Come From Department, *Brendan Gaughan* climbed into the top 10 after a totally inauspicious start to the day. Gaughan qualified 31st out of 35 trucks and was in danger of losing a lap very early on, but the cautions …

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Hollywood and Mayberry: Auto Club Speedway and Martinsville a Microcosm of All NASCAR

It’s a little like looking at Fenway Park and the now (thankfully) defunct Astrodome side by side on a calendar of ballparks. One wonders how the same game can be played at two places with so little in common they might as well be on different planets. Sure, they both have a diamond in there somewhere, but that’s where the similarity ends. One represented the game they way the nostalgic want to remember it; the other represented progress and expansion to new frontiers. Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

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Cali-bore-ya or Sunshine Superspeedway? Some (Sort Of) Good Things About SoCal’s Racing

The NASCAR circuit swings westward this week to Fontana, California and the Auto Club Speedway, the much-maligned 2-mile oval that replaced the road course at Riverside as NASCAR’s southern California staple. The track has a reputation for acting as a narcotic, producing more snores than racing. In fact, this was the subject of our featured newsletter commentary on Thursday. And the fan responses poured in to defend the speedway. Okay, that’s kind of an exaggeration. A fan response poured in to defend the speedway. Kevin in SoCal is a longtime and valued Frontstretch reader as well as frequent commentator on the site, and is a staunch supporter of ACS. His email takes exception to the poor treatment the track receives from the media. “California (Auto Club Speedway) does not deserve the bashing it gets from you, or anyone else for that matter,” Kevin writes. “The track was built by Roger Penske as a dual-use track for his Indy Cars and NASCAR, and he cloned Michigan because the races there were usually pretty good...

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The Greed That Brought The Nationwide Series to Its Knees

It all comes down to money. Racing costs a lot of it. Teams need someone to spend it. And sponsors are the ones to do it-in return for TV time. It’s been that way in racing for years. In the beginning, teams raced with small, local sponsors, because the audience was decidedly…well, local. Races weren’t shown on TV except for the odd clip on Wide World of Sports, right between the bowling clip and some guy wiping out on skis. So local businesses advertised on racecars to draw the local audience to their doors. When the modern era brought more coverage, national sponsors became the norm. Racing got them something valuable: TV time. Overall, it came at a cheaper rate than actually buying commercial airtime, and the added bonus is that they got more time than the 30-second commercial slot.

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For NASCAR, A Continued Upswing Is Dependent on Venue Changes

As the 2011 season has turned three weeks old, feel-good stories have abounded: 20-year-old Trevor Bayne winning the Daytona 500 in just his second start, and for the storied Wood Brothers at that; Jeff Gordon breaking a 66-race winless streak in dramatic fashion after a side-by-side duel with Kyle Busch; the resurgence of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Daytona provided an exciting race marked by everything that makes a restrictor plate race, including a multi-car crash that took out, among others, the series champion; close racing; the draft (though in a slightly different form); and an unexpected winner. Phoenix provided action typical of a 1-mile flat track, with hard-fought battles throughout the field. Ratings are up, optimism is creeping in around the edges.

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One Decal at a Time: Remembering NASCAR’s Legends Is Just the Right Thing To Do

He wasn’t the winningest driver of his era, nor the most popular. He wasn’t a champion, nor did he make millions upon millions driving a racecar. But sometimes making history comes quietly, and what Wendell Scott did for NASCAR is irreplaceable. Scott, the first African-American driver to race and win on NASCAR’s top circuit, desegregated the sport before we desegregated America. Breaking into the NASCAR ranks in 1961, Scott first raced in the Grand National (now Sprint Cup Series) in 1963, in a car he bought from Ned Jarrett. He didn’t win, but finished 15th in points-not bad for a rookie. And when the 1964 season got underway that December, Scott broke through with a win-still the only win for an African-American in the series.

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