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Several Short News Articles of Interest

Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:30 am

News worthy Nascar stuff:


Love him or hate him, Darrell Waltrip is a NASCAR institution, and he's a centerpiece of the sport's broadcast strategy. He's an avowed homer, openly cheering for certain drivers like his brother and Dale Earnhardt Jr., but he's also a huge fan of the sport itself, and his enthusiasm bleeds out of your TV speakers with every boogity.

And now, love him or hate him, you're going to have ol' DW around for another three years, as he's agreed to a contract extension that will keep him in the Fox broadcast booth for the rest of Fox's current NASCAR term. DW will be spinning his homespun wisdom through the 2014 season.
"Being a part of the NASCAR on Fox team has given me an opportunity to share my passion and love for NASCAR," Waltrip "said" in a statement. "I never thought there would be anything that could replace the thrill of driving race cars. I was wrong. Bringing that thrill to the fans at home every week is just as exciting."
For whatever reason, NASCAR fans just love to dissect the minutiae of television coverage, and this will play right into that debate. So, your take on DW? Good for the sport, or relic? Bringing enthusiasm and passion, or country-fried corn? Have your say, friends.


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In a surprising revelation on Wednesday, NASCAR's official statistician announced that Brian Vickers and Greg Biffle were eliminated from Chase contention for being "too far back." Vickers, Biffle and a handful of competitive cup drivers are more than 40 points off the lead, which under the new system, means there is no way for them to win the championship.
Joining Biffle and Vickers in the back of the field are drivers like Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray, David Reutimann and Joey Logano. “Our team debated just packing it in when the season was written off,” confessed four-time Chase driver Biffle. “We're just going to go out there and go through the motions even though we've been mathematically eliminated.”
Dale Jr “I Know How it Feels”
"Now they know how I've felt for years," sighed a forlorn Dale Earnhardt Jr. Whose currently listed "on the bubble" in 17th place. Under the new point system, drivers who are not in the top fifteen after two races are basically just eye candy, driving around in circles for show.
"Sure there are twenty-four more races left until the chase and thirty-four races left before the end of the season, but I don't see any of these drivers making it." NASCAR Statistician Gil Engilburton said. "The chances of someone making up forty points seems pretty impossible.” NASCAR's Engilbnurton reminded reporters that Jimmie Johnson started the 2009 season in 19th place after two races, “And we all remember what a horrible season he had.”

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The New NASCAR Points System: NASCAR recently announced it has simplified its points system starting in 2011, some notes on how it works:
The new points system awards points in one-point increments with race winners earning 43 points, plus three bonus points for the win.
All other drivers in a finishing order will be separated by one-point increments. A second-place finisher will earn 42 points, a third-place driver 41 points, and so on. A last-place finisher  43rd place  earns one point. In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the last-place finisher receives eight points, to account for that series' 36-driver race field.
All drivers also can earn an extra point for leading a lap and ONE driver who leads the most laps, gets one point.
The max a driver, a race winner can get, is 48 points.
Teams that fail to qualify for a race will get no owners points, but NASCAR will track number of attempts, no word on how ties will be broken after five races when the owners points goes into effect
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Post race inspection rules change a tad: In 2011, NASCAR will have two random teams selected for post-race inspection, John Darby, Cup series director explained. Last year, NASCAR took the first car out as a random for post-race inspection. That's why you saw cars go to the garage early and go back out at different times in the race to not be the first car out. Darby said that NASCAR is changing how that random will be selected. "There will still be a random inspection from the cars outside the top 35 (in car owner points), but we're going to make it more random,'' Darby said. "We're going to do it very similar to the way we do the (random) for the big group of the cars at the end of the race, drawing a number kind of situation so nobody really knows who that random will be.'' What will happen is that the crew chief of the first car out of the race will be asked by NASCAR to select two numbers. One will represent a car not in the top 35 in car owner points to be selected for post-race inspection. Another number will represent a car in the top 35 in car owner points for post-race inspection
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Android App Provides NASCAR info
SpeedWeekly Magazine, "Your Racing News Source," is living up its billing by providing auto racing fans with a free Android App for the most popular auto racing television schedules.

The App includes the start time and network of every nationally-televised race in eight different race series. A similar App for the iPhone will soon be available.

The free App, available for download from the Android Market on your phone or by visiting SpeedWeekly.net, provides the schedules for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series, along with the complete schedules for ARCA, IndyCar, Formula One, Grand Am and American LeMans. The App premiered during NASCAR's SpeedWeeks.

"This new SpeedWeekly App is a major advancement for race fans on the go," said Rick Bradham, Publisher of SpeedWeekly Magazine. "Other Apps may offer TV information about a specific network or racing series, but ours is the first to cover all nationally-televised races for eight of the world's most popular auto racing series."

The user-friendly App allows fans to select a series and date and find the name of the race, the track, the start time, and the network televising the race. After each race, the name of the winning driver will replace the start time and network on the App.

"Whether fans are on the road, in a different time zone, or just away from their computers, they can easily find the start time and network for all their favorite races. This exclusive new App puts the power of a complete program guide in the palm of your hand," said Bradham.

In addition to the new App, SpeedWeekly offers two website widgets that provide an auto racing TV schedule. To grab a widget for your site, go to SpeedWeekly.net and select "TV Schedules" from the toolbar.
Android App Provides NASCAR info
SpeedWeekly Magazine, "Your Racing News Source," is living up its billing by providing auto racing fans with a free Android App for the most popular auto racing television schedules.

The App includes the start time and network of every nationally-televised race in eight different race series. A similar App for the iPhone will soon be available.

The free App, available for download from the Android Market on your phone or by visiting SpeedWeekly.net, provides the schedules for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series, along with the complete schedules for ARCA, IndyCar, Formula One, Grand Am and American LeMans. The App premiered during NASCAR's SpeedWeeks.

"This new SpeedWeekly App is a major advancement for race fans on the go," said Rick Bradham, Publisher of SpeedWeekly Magazine. "Other Apps may offer TV information about a specific network or racing series, but ours is the first to cover all nationally-televised races for eight of the world's most popular auto racing series."

The user-friendly App allows fans to select a series and date and find the name of the race, the track, the start time, and the network televising the race. After each race, the name of the winning driver will replace the start time and network on the App.

"Whether fans are on the road, in a different time zone, or just away from their computers, they can easily find the start time and network for all their favorite races. This exclusive new App puts the power of a complete program guide in the palm of your hand," said Bradham.

In addition to the new App, SpeedWeekly offers two website widgets that provide an auto racing TV schedule. To grab a widget for your site, go to SpeedWeekly.net and select "TV Schedules" from the toolbar.
Android App Provides NASCAR info
SpeedWeekly Magazine, "Your Racing News Source," is living up its billing by providing auto racing fans with a free Android App for the most popular auto racing television schedules.

The App includes the start time and network of every nationally-televised race in eight different race series. A similar App for the iPhone will soon be available.

The free App, available for download from the Android Market on your phone or by visiting SpeedWeekly.net, provides the schedules for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series, along with the complete schedules for ARCA, IndyCar, Formula One, Grand Am and American LeMans. The App premiered during NASCAR's SpeedWeeks.

"This new SpeedWeekly App is a major advancement for race fans on the go," said Rick Bradham, Publisher of SpeedWeekly Magazine. "Other Apps may offer TV information about a specific network or racing series, but ours is the first to cover all nationally-televised races for eight of the world's most popular auto racing series."

The user-friendly App allows fans to select a series and date and find the name of the race, the track, the start time, and the network televising the race. After each race, the name of the winning driver will replace the start time and network on the App.

"Whether fans are on the road, in a different time zone, or just away from their computers, they can easily find the start time and network for all their favorite races. This exclusive new App puts the power of a complete program guide in the palm of your hand," said Bradham.

In addition to the new App, SpeedWeekly offers two website widgets that provide an auto racing TV schedule. To grab a widget for your site, go to SpeedWeekly.net and select "TV Schedules" from the toolbar.
Android App Provides NASCAR info
SpeedWeekly Magazine, "Your Racing News Source," is living up its billing by providing auto racing fans with a free Android App for the most popular auto racing television schedules.

The App includes the start time and network of every nationally-televised race in eight different race series. A similar App for the iPhone will soon be available.

The free App, available for download from the Android Market on your phone or by visiting SpeedWeekly.net, provides the schedules for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series, along with the complete schedules for ARCA, IndyCar, Formula One, Grand Am and American LeMans. The App premiered during NASCAR's SpeedWeeks.

"This new SpeedWeekly App is a major advancement for race fans on the go," said Rick Bradham, Publisher of SpeedWeekly Magazine. "Other Apps may offer TV information about a specific network or racing series, but ours is the first to cover all nationally-televised races for eight of the world's most popular auto racing series."

The user-friendly App allows fans to select a series and date and find the name of the race, the track, the start time, and the network televising the race. After each race, the name of the winning driver will replace the start time and network on the App.

"Whether fans are on the road, in a different time zone, or just away from their computers, they can easily find the start time and network for all their favorite races. This exclusive new App puts the power of a complete program guide in the palm of your hand," said Bradham.

In addition to the new App, SpeedWeekly offers two website widgets that provide an auto racing TV schedule. To grab a widget for your site, go to SpeedWeekly.net and select "TV Schedules" from the toolbar.
Android App Provides NASCAR info
SpeedWeekly Magazine, "Your Racing News Source," is living up its billing by providing auto racing fans with a free Android App for the most popular auto racing television schedules.

The App includes the start time and network of every nationally-televised race in eight different race series. A similar App for the iPhone will soon be available.

The free App, available for download from the Android Market on your phone or by visiting SpeedWeekly.net, provides the schedules for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series, along with the complete schedules for ARCA, IndyCar, Formula One, Grand Am and American LeMans. The App premiered during NASCAR's SpeedWeeks.

"This new SpeedWeekly App is a major advancement for race fans on the go," said Rick Bradham, Publisher of SpeedWeekly Magazine. "Other Apps may offer TV information about a specific network or racing series, but ours is the first to cover all nationally-televised races for eight of the world's most popular auto racing series."

The user-friendly App allows fans to select a series and date and find the name of the race, the track, the start time, and the network televising the race. After each race, the name of the winning driver will replace the start time and network on the App.

"Whether fans are on the road, in a different time zone, or just away from their computers, they can easily find the start time and network for all their favorite races. This exclusive new App puts the power of a complete program guide in the palm of your hand," said Bradham.

In addition to the new App, SpeedWeekly offers two website widgets that provide an auto racing TV schedule. To grab a widget for your site, go to SpeedWeekly.net and select "TV Schedules" from the toolbar.
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Talking to other teams
In a curious discussion, some drivers were not happy that in this year’s Daytona 500, drivers were able to talk on radio with drivers not on their own team. This was done to aid the safety of the new two-car tandems at the newly repaved Daytona, and I’m glad to see they did it because many wrecks were probably prevented by this policy.

But some drivers were not happy with the decision.\"I think NASCAR should step in on drivers getting on other teams' radios," #22-Kurt Busch said. "... We shouldn't be able to communicate with radios."

I saw why not? Communication already takes place via spotters, so why not cut short the process and go directly driver-to-driver. It can only make restrictor plate racing safer, and that’s a good thing by anyone’s standard..
Carl Edwards is in that camp, calling it necessary for safety. I don’t see this policy changing at future restrictor plate races, so Busch and others who don’t like it are probably just going to have to accept it.

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Kevin Conway released a statement Monday evening: "I don't mind stiff competition, but I want to make sure the hard facts are told. First and foremost, I love being a part of NASCAR and have worked very hard to earn the privilege of competing in the Sprint Cup Series. On Friday night, Robby Gordon, who has a long history of issues in NASCAR decided to ambush me in the garage area at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, completely unprovoked. Robby even confronted Joe Nemechek, my car owner, on pit road during Cup Series qualifying shoving him and telling him that he was looking for me and going to assault me. We have many witnesses including a crew chief that signed a police report documenting the truth of his physical attack on me. Situations like this are not good for our sport. It's one thing if we were racing each other and I wrecked him or he wrecked me, that's an entirely different situation. It's very unfortunate that he chose to physically attack me to address his rage. Our fans, sponsors and NASCAR expect and deserve more from our competitors than this bullish, illegal behavior that was displayed by Robby against me."
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ONE: Monetary Woes Are Getting to Robby Gordon
Though the No. 7 car has been painted for each of the first three races of the 2011 season, and Gordon has been reported to have sponsorship through the early spring for his Cup entries, any doubt that finances were very much an issue for the Robby Gordon Motorsports operation were laid to rest this past weekend in Las Vegas, both on the track and off. For the third weekend in a row, the No. 7 car was involved in an on-track incident…and for the second straight time, it was a spin on his own. For all of his aggression, Gordon’s car control has never been questioned. But both at Phoenix and now Vegas, Gordon has been involved in spins that seem almost as if the driver is distracted behind the wheel, having a difficult time getting into a groove in the afternoon’s event.
Couple that with a reported altercation involving Gordon and former employee Kevin Conway in the garage area Friday that resulted in immediate probation and a police report being filed after an argument over compensation, and its becoming readily apparent that finances are prominently on the brain of one of the sport’s few remaining owner/drivers.
Dramatic revelation? No. But if its something that’s going to result in incidents on and off the racetrack, it’s certainly a cause for concern. Gordon may have started Speed Energy in an effort to finance his racing operations, but the countless number of energy drinks that have come and gone through the sport (Shark, Wave, Who’s Your Daddy?) without leaving any sort of significant financial impact on their respective racing operations makes it decidedly obvious that the venture is not a surefire solution to sponsorship woes. For Gordon to keep his Cup car going through all of 2011, he’s going to have to bring outside dollars in…and that’s not going to happen for an owner getting in heated disputes with delinquent sponsors or a driver proving to be his own worst enemy on race day.
Cooler heads need to prevail in the No. 7 camp, fast. It’s probably a good thing that there’s an off-weekend before Bristol.
TWO: Welcome Back the Start-and-Parks
And that doesn’t just apply to the Nationwide Series, where three entries that came out of nowhere over the course of the week between Phoenix and Las Vegas prevented consecutive short fields for the AAA ranks in their first full season with the new COT cars that so many weren’t able to afford. In Cup, it certainly appears that the old days of turning a blind eye to the practice at the back of the garage is coming back into fashion for the sanctioning body.
Quietly, a significant change in inspection processes for the teams outside the top 35 in owner points has taken away the incentive that last season had the start-and-parkers running at least 80 to 100 laps a race instead of 22. There is no longer an incentive not to be the first car to park…because the inspection process now has the first car in the garage and out of the race randomly picking a number to be the car NASCAR inspects. Instead of having an incentive in place for teams to run more laps and actually take some semblance of a part in the race they’re getting paid to run there, now there’s no way to effectively avoid being the team to go through additional inspection and an engine teardown.
In short, for the fleet of start-and-parks in the back, might as well bring those cars in when they’re good and ready now. If inspection is going to be determined randomly for those outside the top 35, the chance of being selected is going to be the same if they run 22 laps or 222. So much for NASCAR’s comments the past few seasons that they needed to ensure, at least at the Cup level, that teams were “on the up and up.”
It already seems to have made an impact; twice as many cars parked within the first 50 laps of this Vegas race as one year ago, despite an equal number of start-and-park entries.
Either NASCAR’s stopped caring about the start-and-parkers participating in at least some form in their races, or they’re resigned to inspecting a random outside the top 35 because they’re resigned to having multiple such entries in the Cup field. Either way, there’s a problem with this change in inspection processes.
THREE: Mark Martin’s 49th NNS Win…or 96th NASCAR Win?
I have to thank a fan comment on this week’s Nationwide Series Breakdown for this point, but it’s certainly one that ought to be answered. Upon scoring a surprise victory in Nationwide competition at Las Vegas this past Saturday, Mark Martin was hailed for extending his all-time record NNS win total to 49, delaying, at least a little while longer, according to the ESPN booth, the inevitable that he will lose that title to Kyle Busch.
Martin’s 49th NNS triumph was indeed his 96th win in NASCAR’s top three series, but that statistic wasn’t given the light of day. Which begs an interesting question…why not?
After all, as ESPN and everyone else that isn’t convinced the current Nationwide Series is a hollow “Cup lite” waiting for a bottle of scotch and handgun to put it out of its misery continually harp on, every time Kyle Busch scored a Truck or Nationwide win, it’s not just a trophy…it’s his 80-something win in NASCAR competition. He’s that much closer to the century mark. He’s that much closer to hitting the mystical 200 number. He’s that much closer to being Richard Petty. The second coming is here!
So where was the hubhub that Martin had scored his 96th win overall, putting him only four away from the century mark? Here’s the answer as simple as can be…Martin isn’t busy running wild all weekend in the minor leagues, and the 200 wins in NASCAR number isn’t something he’s floated out as a career goal, as a numerical justification for beating up kids on the playground for lunch money when he’s making a living as a professional boxer.
Fact is, Kyle runs roughshod over both the Truck and Nationwide Series frequently. The TV crews, for better or worse, have harped on his going for 200 total wins as something to talk about, some sort of significance to attach to a practice that ultimately has rendered each of the two series playgrounds for the stars most weekends.
Doesn’t sound like everyone’s buying it. Gotta love Frontstretch readers; agree or disagree with our writing, they’re a sharp bunch.
FOUR: Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Team Still Crawling to Start 2011
Though Kurt Busch has picked up right where he left off and is looking every bit like a Chase contender for Penske Racing yet again, contraction from three cars to two has not appeared to do any favors for the No. 2 team. Case in point, Las Vegas; Keselowski was a non-factor in the event all day long, eventually finishing off the lead lap in 26th, behind even the Germain Racing entry of Casey Mears.
Something has to change in that shop, fast. Keselowski is now in a marquee ride and no longer has the rookie stripe to point to as justification for struggling in the Cup ranks. He’s even got a year under his belt working with the crew chief atop the box, yet Sunday saw the No. 2 as much of a non-factor on an intermediate oval as David Stremme and Ryan Newman were as Kurt Busch’s teammates the seasons before 2010.
Sure, going to two cars wasn’t a recipe for instant success; the No. 12 and No. 77 cars were far from setting the world on fire last year, it’s not like combining those two was going to necessarily produce something better instantly. But Keselowski has his Nationwide title that was oh-so-important now. It’s time to play with the big boys, not run alongside them.
FIVE: TV Ratings Speak Volumes
For years, it’s been the media’s fault for perpetuating negative tones about the sport, scaring people away from the grandstands and into turning off their TVs. The media was killing off the sport.
Enter 2011. TV ratings for each of the season’s first three races are up, as is interest. The Daytona 500, for all the wrecks, produced a dramatic feel-good story and a fresh new face on a sport that’s been seeking one. That was followed up by one of the best to ever drive showing he’s still got it, a thrilling conclusion to a Phoenix race that, while not Rockingham, was certainly an improvement over previous seasons’ snore-inducing second races at Fontana. And Vegas was Vegas, the first intermediate of the season and a race that actually produced some passes for the lead.
The 2011 season has had compelling storylines and competition, and fan interest has been there as a result. The fact that TV ratings are up despite little change in broadcasts or cast of characters has spoken volumes that no matter what’s written or said, the tale on the track will tell the tale of the sport.
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LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart are known for their racing success and explosive tempers.

Most every problem on the track is followed by a profanity-laced rant, a tantrum and, in Busch's case, a meltdown right in the car that has at times prevented him from making a strong finish. Then came the sulking and scowling. If they even bothered to give interviews, the answers were usually short and snippy.

It was boorish behavior, but tolerated. Nothing was going to change NASCAR's two biggest bad boys.

Until, that is, they changed.

Busch and Stewart seem to have mellowed this season. That was never more apparent than Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Both had a chance to win, and neither did.

Busch was done in first by a flat tire, then a blown engine. He was running second when he got his flat, had to stop for a new tire and disagreed with his crew's decision to change only two and not all four. That's where Busch would typically unload on crew chief Dave Rogers, working himself into a hysteria that could have derailed his race.

Instead, Busch simply scolded Rogers. He then calmly offered advice when a caution moments later gave them a chance to salvage the setback. A blown engine 10 laps later, however, ended his day at his home track, where wins mean the most to him.

As Busch climbed from his disabled car, the race streaming around him, viewers braced for his reaction. If he didn't stomp away from the cameras, his interview would likely be a bitter one.

Then, for the second time in two days, he was a total pro.

"I've been blowing tires, mowing grass, knocking walls down and setting balls of fire down the backstretch in both races this weekend," he said. "It might be good just to get out of here and come back and try again next year."

Then came Stewart, who led a race-high 163 laps and had the field covered at one of only two active tracks where the two-time champion has never won a Sprint Cup race. After falling short in the Daytona 500, then losing because of a late caution a week earlier in Phoenix, he finally seemed headed to Victory Lane.

Then a rare mistake on pit road - he pulled the air hose tangled in his fender out of his stall as he sped off - brought a damaging penalty. He went from the lead to 24th place. He drove his way back to 16th and needed a two-tire decision by crew chief Darian Grubb on the next caution to reclaim the lead.

But there was one more pit stop, and that tire strategy meant he'd have to change all four the next time. Only the entire field had watched him pull away with just the two tires, and most every crew chief now planned to copy that strategy.

That final four-tire stop was a long one. But because so many others took two, Stewart found himself behind Carl Edwards and Juan Pablo Montoya on the final run. Stewart could only catch Montoya and settled for second.

He was, as expected, hot on his team radio, and warned of an immediate discussion how they'd just given away a race for a second straight week. But he bottled that anger when he climbed from his car, and all the public saw was a disappointed driver dealing with his third loss in three weeks.

"It kills me to throw a race away like that," he said. "When the emotion dies down, we'll look back and say it was a great weekend, but man, it does not sit good right now."

And that was about it.

There was no explosion, no belittling of reporters' questions and no need to tiptoe around either driver.

So what's happened to NASCAR's two firecrackers? And, more important, will it last?

For Busch, the answer could simply be that he's growing up.

He got married during the offseason, which perhaps gave him some serenity. He's also settling into his second year of owning a Truck Series team, and last year's rocky first season taught him how to deal with sponsorship issues, financial problems and a new level of responsibility.

But he's also finally aware of the popular opinion that the only thing that's prevented Busch from winning a Sprint Cup title is Busch.

All those outbursts on his team radio, all that on-track bumping and banging with competitors, and all those times he lost focus in the race car really only hurt one person - Busch.

It seems as if the light is finally on, and Busch is trying his hardest not to be his own worst enemy anymore.

Stewart's not as simple. He was always able to succeed despite himself, relying on his immense talent to overcome his outbursts and moodiness. But it's been five years since his last championship, and the wins are far harder to come by at this stage of his career.

His many business ventures have made him a team owner, track operator, race promoter and just about everything else involved in professional racing, and that's created a desire to keep things smooth and stable.

Stewart now sees that life is much easier when he's not making it hard on everyone around him. Plus, he turns 40 this year and is aware of the impending milestone. Still single, he longs to have children and create his version of the perfect family. He's tired of riding that roller coaster - charming and funny one minute, brooding and mean the next - and understands he's the only one who can change that.

It's far too early in the season to declare either driver a truly changed man, but both are certainly trying. And while everyone may miss their entertaining explosions, both will likely find their new approach will make life easier both on and off the track.

Re: Several Short News Articles of Interest

Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:19 am

OK, let’s get these out of the way first: Roll the dice, hit it big, jackpot, aces high, what you know about seven and always bet on black.
These are the only stupid Las Vegas clichés you will read in this article.
With Vegas playing host to the third event of the year, it is also a time to sit and reflect about a season that’s already one-twelfth complete. It precedes an off-week for both Sprint Cup and Nationwide schedules, and can help carry some much needed momentum through the Spring stretch that traditionally separates pretenders from contenders in the points race. In addition, it serves as a barometer to how teams may fare at the intermediate tracks that lay ahead such as California, Texas and Darlington. For those who struggled at Phoenix, the-short-track-that’s-not-a-short-track, this past weekend was an opportunity to get a do-over in the desert. If Daytona was a disappointment, Sunday marked the last chance to gain some ground before the next landmine on the schedule that lies ahead in two weeks: Bristol.
So which drivers are sticking in my head to watch moving forward? Three surprises in particular stand out; let’s delve into their seasons and find out why.
Carl Edwards
While Edwards wasn’t quite able to pull off a Daytona 500 win, placing second on the Trevor Bayne miracle train, he certainly had the machine to beat the following week in Phoenix. That was, of course, until Kyle Busch connected with the No. 99 Roush Fenway Ford and sent him over the rumble strips. Edwards, who had started on the pole, went Colt Seavers over the red and white warning curb, then into Jeff Gordon and the robin’s egg blue walls of PIR that turned his mood from jubilant to junky.
While Bob Osborne flipped out on the war wagon, Edwards had plenty of time to stew about it these past ten days. Even though he and Busch are on the same page and cool with everything, he was still hot about not winning, pulling into Vegas on a mission for redemption. After all, it isn’t often one gets a car that dominant in a Cup race, and if Edwards is going to contend for the championship this year – especially with the unknown that is the new points format – every race, win and point is going to count.
Seeking salvation, Edwards found it in the most unlikely of places: Sin City. Hey, whatever works, right? The disappointment of Phoenix was quickly erased as Edwards was thrust into contention after a pit road equipment penalty on the No. 14 of Tony Stewart (and a no-call for the No. 99 on a tire that had exited his pit stall) led to his first win of the year and third in the last five races dating back to 2010. Considering Daytona was in his grasp and Phoenix was the one that got away, Edwards clearly has the driver and car to beat, primed to pick up some serious steam heading into an off week.
Mark Martin
With Kyle Busch running the majority of the Nationwide Series races, winning 32 of them in three seasons and generally dominating to the point of making it nearly irrelevant – and prompting a NASCAR-wide rules change – it won’t be long before he passes Mark Martin as the all-time wins leader in that division. But Busch will have to now win five more races before tying Martin, who took the victory in Saturday’s Sam’s Town 300 at LVMS. It was Martin’s third win in his last three Nationwide attempts at Las Vegas, a nice addition to a trophy collection that includes the inaugural Cup race held there in 1998.
This one came with a stroke of Lady Luck involved. Brad Keselowski was leading on the final lap when his Dodge Challenger suffered a tire failure entering Turn One, clearing the way for Martin in his Turner Motorsports No. 32 Dollar General Chevrolet to cruise by and take the win – the first for the organization which had once been the familiar Braun Motorsports entry, one of the few full-time Nationwide Teams to see action up front in recent years.
The outcome was ironic, if anything, as the drivers who finished second and third both played a part in his other two Vegas victories in 2005 and ’08. In ’05, Edwards blew a tire in the closing laps, sending him spinning through the infield grass, while Martin took control with nine laps remaining to win. In 2008, Edwards, Martin, and Keselowski were battling for the win with five laps remaining when Martin made incidental contact with Edwards, sending him up into Brad Keselowski in one of his first runs driving JR Motorsports’ No. 88 US Navy car.
And so it goes. While one individual has made a number of comments regarding “winning” the last couple of weeks, Mark Martin in Las Vegas has managed to back it up once again.
Danica Patrick
“Who’s the big winner here tonight at the casino?… Mikey’s the big winner… Mikey Wins.”
That is from one of the best scenes a movie set in Las Vegas, 1996’s “Swingers” which brought notoriety and relevance to a pair of actors named Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn.
At a race set in Las Vegas on Saturday, it did the same for Danica Patrick and her burgeoning NASCAR career. Her fourth-place finish this weekend was a watershed moment for what appears to be an eventual move to stock cars, as it was her first top-5 performance and the highest ever for a female in NASCAR history.
While not quite a win, it was a major step in the development process for Patrick, who had struggled in her initial outings in the Hendrick Motorsports-backed effort of JR Motorsports. In her first eight races last year she had averaged a less than impressive average finish of 31st – in a series that isn’t exactly chock full of competition lately. But after a Charlotte coaching session, paired with the series all-time win leader Martin last Fall, Patrick showed immediate improvement; she had only one finish worse than 22nd in her final five starts for 2010. Not exactly earth shattering numbers, for sure, but about on par with what most other open-wheelers have done in recent years after making the move to the Land of Fenders.
Patrick has another helping hand on board for 2011 in Nationwide and Truck Series Champion, and Cup Series Rookie of The Year, Johnny Benson, Jr. – who had been all but absent from the sport after being unceremoniously dismissed from his Red Horse Racing Truck Series ride in 2009, only to have subsequent injuries suffered at his home track of Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan. The extra help has obviously paid off, with Patrick’s first three finishes this season being a 14th at Daytona, 17th at Phoenix, and now a fourth at Las Vegas.
Some may scoff by saying it was the result of late-race pit strategy, but the battle shown from her in-car camera with Bayne speaks otherwise. It appears as if she is finally getting the hang of wrestling around race cars that are polar opposite from what she is used to driving, and that after 16 starts scattered through a little over a year of competition, she is getting up to speed, literally, in a series that could benefit greatly from her continued participation and ability to compete – and contend.
So there you go – three big Vegas winners this weekend, without using any cheesy gambling phrases. Please forgive the movie quote though from “Swingers,” even though you’ve got to admit…it was money.

Re: Several Short News Articles of Interest

Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:20 am

Charlotte Motor Speedway president Marcus Smith announced that there will be no changes to the format for this year's Sprint All-Star Race, which is scheduled for May 21. That's a departure from past All-Star races, which typically have some sort of new field inversion or segment change each year. "The big change is that there's not going to be a change," Smith said. The race will include 100 laps run in four segments, the first of which will feature 50 laps with a mandatory green-flag pit stop at Lap 25. The second and third segments are 20 laps each, followed by a 10-minute break and a final segment of 10 laps, with only green-flag laps counting.
The field for the 27th All-Star Race will consist of race winners from the previous or current years, in addition to winners of the All-Star Race and the Sprint Cup championship from the past 10 years. Two drivers will race their way into the field through the Sprint Showdown, which precedes the main event, and one driver will qualify through votes from race fans. #88-Dale Earnhardt, who last won the All-Star Race in 2000, is no longer exempt into the field, but he's all but assured of winning the fan vote, should he remain winless between now and May 21
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