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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

5 Points to Ponder: 2009 CARFAX 400 at Michigan

Each week, the Frontstretch hosts a live blog during the Sprint Cup race. It’s a great way for readers to interact alongside their favorite writers with videos, live commentary, and live polls. Each of this week’s “Five Points” were polls taken during the Michigan live blog.

ONE: Did Kyle Busch have a right to be upset with Brian Vickers after Saturday’s Nationwide race?
Fan Vote – YES: 20%; NO: 80%

The story of the weekend pertained to the dramatic conclusion of Saturday’s Nationwide race between Brad Keselowski, Vickers and Kyle Busch. Keselowski went on to win, but Busch voiced his displeasure with the way Vickers raced him in the closing laps; and with the flip of a visor, blogs started popping up by the minute. Was Vickers in the wrong by side-drafting off of Busch while Keselowski went on to pass both for the win? Absolutely not. Vickers was doing whatever he felt he could do to get the victory… he wasn’t just going to give it away. All of the other 42 drivers – including Busch – would have done a similar move in the same situation.

TWO: Will Regan Smith get the No. 78 team in the Top 35 in owner points in 2010?
Fan Vote – YES: 63%; NO: 37%

I’ve been a staunch supporter of Smith for years, and I for one was happy to hear he’d again be running full-time in 2010. The problem is I see the Furniture Row team like I do the Wood Brothers; they may run well with a partial schedule, but will ultimately struggle when they try to make all 36 races. The first five races next year will be crucial to their success, as when it comes to qualifying they will be at a disadvantage because they won’t be locked in with the previous season’s owner points. In the end, I don’t see the team making the Top 35 through the first five races because of variables out of their control, but gradually narrowing the deficit throughout the season.

THREE: Who do you consider to be Jimmie Johnson’s biggest threat for the title?
Fan Vote – Mark Martin: 17%; Jeff Gordon: 0%; Kurt Busch: 0%: Tony Stewart: 66%; Himself: 17% 

As Johnson and Martin were battling for the lead midway through Sunday’s race, I brought up in the blog that I thought IF – and that’s a big if – Martin makes the Chase, he will be Johnson’s toughest competition come Chase time. Not to slight Stewart, because I believe that he too will be one of the favorites come Loudon, but there’s something about the combination of Martin’s experience and Hendrick equipment that makes him a legitimate contender. Johnson, Stewart, and Martin are my Big 3 for the final 10 races, but given the No. 48 team’s past Chase success and fast cars as of late, the only person that may prevent a four-peat is Johnson himself.

FOUR: Should NASCAR.com replace TrackPass with TNT’s RaceBuddy?
Fan Vote – YES: 100%; NO: 0%

This was a poll posted by Frontstretch’s resident TV critic and blog co-host, Phil Allaway, and stemmed from noises he’d heard that fans were lobbying for RaceBuddy to return to NASCAR.com. Unfortunately, it’ll never happen because RaceBuddy belongs to TNT and, well, TNT’s slate of races is over. I will say, though, that RaceBuddy is by far the best interactive raceday service on the net and should be a blueprint for future products.

FIVE: Will Vickers win a race this season?
Fan Vote – YES: 20%; NO: 80%

Well, we all know they answer to this one now, don’t we? Posed mid-race, it’s apparent that fans didn’t think Vickers – or Team Red Bull – had what it takes to win a Sprint Cup race this season. But this isn’t the same Red Bull Racing team that struggled when Toyota debuted in the sport, and this isn’t the same Vickers that struggled at Hendrick Motorsports. The combination has led to numerous poles this season and has suddenly become the biggest threat to the No. 5 team’s Chase hopes. Will he make actually make the playoffs? Who knows. But both Vickers and Team Red Bull have made necessary strides that make this season a success regardless of a postseason berth or not.

Three Notes to Ponder

  • Danica says rumors are true: Danica Patrick said this week that the rumors that she is considering NASCAR are true. I still think she’s just looking for leverage for an IndyCar ride with Chip Ganassi, though….
  • Busch’s weekend: Forget the feud with Vickers for a bit, for is there a weekend that sums up Busch’s 2009 season more than this one? While he opened up an insurmountable lead with his third-place finish and Carl Edwards‘s crash, he fell further back in his Chase quest with a mediocre 23rd.
  • Junior’s complaints: It was nice to hear Dale Earnhardt Jr. speak out against the CoT this weekend, but will NASCAR step in and do something drastic to improve the racing?

Follow Mike Lovecchio on Twitter HERE

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