Race Weekend Central

NASCAR 101: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Hendrick Motorsports Legacy

2016 Martinsville I Cup Dale Earnhardt Jr Matthre T Thacker Nkp

(Photo: Matthew T Thacker/NKP)

When Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced his retirement from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at the end of the 2017 season last Tuesday (April 25), it was no surprise it came with Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick by his side, since that’s the team for which Earnhardt currently drives in the Cup Series. However, here’s …

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Daytona Duels Get Added Adrenaline With Qualifying Change

_Editor’s Note: Have you not signed up “for your FREE Frontstretch Newsletter”:https://frontstretch.com/notice/9557/ in 2013? If you haven’t heard, it’s a daily edition we put out Monday through Friday with NASCAR news, commentary, interviews, and information you can’t find anywhere else on the site. Every Wednesday, we’ll have a little commentary like this one exclusive to the Newsletter; like what you read from Kevin? Then be sure to sign up with the link at the bottom of this column…_

Let’s be real — the allure of the pre-Daytona 500 Duels has been, for a few years now, fairly understated. Rather than a high-drama, high-stakes double shot of restrictor plate goodness prior to the big show, with a myriad of drivers racing for their spot on the starting grid, the top-35 rule of recent years eliminated a lot of no-holds-barred competition down the stretch.

Evaluating Cup’s Smaller Teams, 2012 Edition

These days, the brunt of both fan and media attention is focused on the larger, more well-funded teams of NASCAR — and rightfully so. They’re, after all, the organizations that challenge for top-10 finishes each week, let alone wins and championships. However, those teams only take up about two-thirds of a full 43-car field. The …

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One More Chance: Who Could Win Among NASCAR’s Winless

Most will focus on the championship battle at this weekend’s Sprint Cup Series Homestead race — and why not? After a close Chase, a first-time champion could very well be crowned unless a five-time former champ can make some magic happen and overcome a hefty deficit in the final race of the year.

But that’s not all that’s at stake in Florida. From the time the season began in that very state to now, there have been 35 regular season races, meaning 35 different chances to claim a victory. A total of 15 drivers have won those events, with Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin at the top of the category with five wins apiece.

A Few Modest Proposals For Future NASCAR Banquet Hosts

So, yeah. Howie Mandel’s hosting the 2012 Sprint Cup Awards Banquet. Following in the footsteps of such comedians / hallowed entertainment icons as Jay Mohr, David Spade and Frank Caliendo, the “America’s Got Talent” and “Let’s Make a Deal” host will helm the Las Vegas ceremony later this month. He replaces Reba McEntire, who guided the action in 2011.

As with many of the last few hosts, save for McEntire and perhaps Caliendo, Mandel doesn’t explicitly have much to do with NASCAR or its fan base, which will undoubtedly cause many to wonder why he’s even there in the first place. According to Mandel, he’s “spent many years in [his] career evaluating and analyzing talent,” and he has no doubt that NASCAR competitors are among the world’s best talents.

Pastrana’s 2013 Title Chase Surprising, But Exciting for Nationwide Series

When Travis Pastrana drove a race in Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 60, competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Richmond last September a few fans raised an eyebrow at the development.

Two months later, consider both eyebrows raised.

Pastrana, the extreme sports star looking to break into stock car racing, is “reportedly close”:https://frontstretch.com/breakingnews/42015/ to a deal that will have him in a Roush Fenway Nationwide car full-time in 2013.

And Then There Were Three: A Look At That “Other” NASCAR Title Race

After an off week while the Cup and Truck Series traveled to Martinsville, the Nationwide Series returns to action this weekend at Texas.

And the race for the series title couldn’t be much closer than this one.

With three races to go in 2012, three drivers sit within reasonable contention for the end-of-year trophy, with the top two separated by a mere half-dozen points. Elliott Sadler, in the final year of his tenure with Richard Childress Racing, holds the lead by a slim six-point margin over defending champion, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Rookie Austin Dillon sits third, 26 points back.

Next in Line: Six ARCA Drivers Who Deserve A NASCAR Debut

The 2012 ARCA Racing Series season went out with a bang, rather than a whimper, last Friday at Kansas Speedway with three separate cars getting airborne during the 99-lap event. Alex Bowman won the battle — his fourth victory of the year — but Chris Buescher won the war, edging out nine-time series champion Frank Kimmel by 75 points en route to his first ARCA championship.

Parity, a running theme in NASCAR had to be a hallmark of this stock car series in 2012. Throughout the 19-race season (a 20th, DuQuoin, was cancelled due to inclement weather and the inability of series officials to reschedule a second time before season’s end) 11 different drivers found Victory Lane, three winning for the first time in the series. Officially, 147 different racers made an event, 10 of whom started every date on the schedule in 2012.

A Quick Rundown of NASCAR’s New Qualifying and Testing Changes

On Tuesday, NASCAR revealed multiple changes to the sport that will affect both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series when they take effect come 2013. Most prominently, the sanctioning body announced the abolition of the top-35 rule for qualifying and new testing procedures.

Let’s waste no time and take a closer look at all three changes, one by one.

Most notable is the Sprint Cup Series’ new qualifying format. Well… new-ish. Actually, come to think of it, it’s not very new at all. Recycled is the better term.

Champion, Interrupted: Kurt Busch’s Phoenix Racing Tenure

Kurt Busch’s 29-race tenure with Phoenix Racing ended with a bang, though it’s probably not the kind of noise Busch and owner James Finch hoped to make.

After leading six laps and riding around at the front of the pack in the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, Busch slowed on the track — in front of nearly the entire field, no less — claiming he was out of fuel. One spin and contact with the inside wall later, his No. 51 Chevrolet was rendered pretty much useless, though that didn’t stop him from driving away from safety crews, a piece of their equipment still sitting atop his car and later falling to the racing surface.

The move earned the Las Vegas native an early exit via a NASCAR parking, even though his car wasn’t going to perform too well in the draft anyway with a crumpled rear end.

Talladega During The Chase: A Brief History

For many, the Fall Talladega Sprint Cup race brings with it a definite sense that anything can happen. Due to the superspeedway’s ability to provide a more even playing field for teams, along with its susceptibility for “The Big One,” the days leading up to the race are often filled with impatient fans and teams that worry for their drivers’ and cars’ well-being. Or, there will be potential contenders, including those that have had a season filled with futility which talk up the possibility of a good showing — a cycle of talk that was all happening _before_ NASCAR threw its Chase postseason format into the equation.

Uncertain Times Await for Suddenly-Replaced Regan Smith

Hearing the news of Kurt Busch’s arrival at Furniture Row Racing next season might cause one to recall the path that the team has traveled to get to 2013 — from Jerry Robertson to a former Cup champ. But, aside from the fanfare of a superstar driver’s big announcement, it also elicits a worthwhile question: what happens to Regan Smith?

Smith, who’s been within the NASCAR ranks since 2002, came to Furniture Row, a Denver, Colo.-based, single-car organization, in 2009, when the team was running on a part-time basis after failing to qualify for multiple races from 2006-2008. After switching back to full-time status in 2010, Smith and the No. 78 team scored a popular victory in the 2011 Southern 500 at Darlington. Just this past off-season, Smith moved to Colorado to be closer to the rest of the organization, expecting his future to lie with the Denver-based race team.