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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

MPM2Nite: For Christ’s Sake

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_Writer’s Note: Some of you might want to sit this column out. With an off weekend ahead, there’s not much going on in racing and this column will deal with religion and politics in addition to what happened to a Nationwide team and their sponsor. If you’re looking for a story about fast loud cars and the greasy bits that they’re made of, move along. I don’t wish to offend anyone but I am going to speak my peace._

When it comes to advertisements during NASCAR races most fans have an opinion that there’s just too darn many of the things and all those commercials make it hard to keep up with the ebb and flow of the race. But there’s one commercial presented by a sponsor of a Nationwide team you won’t be seeing on ESPN or its sister networks.

Did You Notice? … NASCAR’s Chronic Underachiever, No Laps Up Front & Quick Hits

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*Did You Notice?…* Ryan Newman’s wacky pattern of “upset” victories? In the last seven years, he has won only four times, with three of those the result of passes caused by circumstance, by luck tilting his way within the last five laps of a race. Consider…

*Daytona, February 2008.* Heading into the final restart, with three laps left Newman was fourth and a clear underdog with Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch up ahead. Those two had combined to lead 102 of 200 laps, but a move as the cars came up to speed “left them separated.”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcbNUA7x8P8 As Busch went low, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. went with him which allowed the teammates of Newman and Kurt Busch, not the JGR duo, to pair up.

Two NASCAR Champions, But Only One Great Escape

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If there’s anyone in NASCAR with a bigger smile than Sprint Cup winner Tony Stewart after Fontana, it’s a certain five-time champ who drives the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. For hometown hero Jimmie Johnson, the past ten days may have been more meaningful than any trip he’ll ever take to Victory Lane this season. Meanwhile, across the way his Hendrick teammate and “car owner” Jeff Gordon was perhaps the only one leaving with a frown after this race was mercifully stopped 71 laps short of its scheduled distance.

It’s two drivers, two different doses of Lady Luck and the type of ending that’s defined the changing of the guard within Hendrick Motorsports.

Three Years Later, TV Coverage Still Strangling the Nationwide Series

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On the other side of the tracks, er, garage, though, life is nowhere near so promising. Sponsorship is still sorely lacking for just about every independent operation on the circuit (and even for the big guns, remember that Trevor Bayne still doesn’t have a ride for Texas). Start-and-parks are still able to make the field on a regular basis. The teams that are racing are doing so on scuffed tires with used engines and limited car stables. For as much as the competitiveness has been flourishing on track, the overall health of the series… and the business model that keeps its teams on track, is no better off than a season ago.

Five Points to Ponder: Green Flags, Hungry Drivers and an Exciting Race

*ONE: Green Flags Are Good*

The Nationwide Series race featured long green flag runs all afternoon. The Cup race was run caution-free until it ultimately ended for rain. And the Auto Club Speedway got a distinction it perhaps never has held…hosting two races worth watching in the same weekend.

Sure, abrasive asphalt and tires that actually wore out were largely responsible for producing a compelling on-track product. But more than that, long green flag runs allowed for drivers to explore lines on the track and to wheel cars that came and went throughout the event.

Long Term Prognosis Solid for Kahne Despite Tough Start to 2012

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Back in April 2010, when Kasey Kahne first signed on the dotted line with NASCAR’s powerhouse team; he knew there would be a couple transition seasons before he finally started piloting Hendrick horse-powered cars. In fact, it would take the better part of 20 months before Kahne finally pulled those belts down tight in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports ride: a journey that included a one-year sabbatical at the now defunct Red Bull Racing outfit as well as more than half a season finishing up his Richard Petty Motorsports contract. 2012, then, was meant to be the year he ignited a sustained and genuine title challenge that had been years in the offing.

What’s Vexing Vito – Make Up Your Mind Already!

“You write born to kill on your helmet and you wear a peace button. What’s that supposed to be some kind of sick joke? _No sir._ “What is it supposed to mean?” _I don’t know, sir._ “You don’t know very, much do you?” _No sir._ “You better get your head and your ass wired together, …

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Fact or Fiction from Stock Car Racing’s Development Ranks

*FACT: Trevor Bayne Will Run a Full NNS Schedule in 2012*

Anyone remember the last time a legitimate championship contender driving for a powerhouse organization in one of NASCAR’s national touring series was on pins and needles week after week, trying to put patchquilt sponsor dollars together to keep the campaign going?

NASCAR’s Social Media Explosion: It’s a Small (and Connected) World…

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Many NASCAR fans spent Tuesday on pins-and-needles; after all, focusing on work was difficult considering what was going down at the sanctioning body’s Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina. Rick Hendrick, Chad Knaus, and the No. 48 Lowe’s race team were appealing their Speedweeks 2012 penalty for being caught with improperly shaped C-pillars on the Chevrolet they planned to run in the Daytona 500. Here it was – three weeks after the 500 and almost a month after the violation itself – and fans anxiously awaited the verdict of the National Stock Car Racing Commission.

As the appeals hearing occurred that day, not only did NASCAR Nation know what was happening, but it knew exactly what went on as the events took place. As soon as the commission’s decision to uphold NASCAR’s penalty was announced, race fans knew it.

My, but how the times have changed…

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Sam’s Town 300

Just one week after 2011 championship runner-up Elliott Sadler sent a message with a return to victory lane at Phoenix, the defending title holder Ricky Stenhouse Jr. returned the favor. Holding off Mark Martin on the final two restarts of the afternoon, Stenhouse’s No. 6 proved to be the class of the field, and the driver delivered with his third career Nationwide Series win. Martin, polesitter Sadler, Trevor Bayne and Brendan Gaughan rounded out the top 5.

Weathering asphalt and bumps growing more pronounced in the lower groove of turns 1 and 2 made the high line an active route around the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, which when combined with a softer tire allowed for side-by-side racing and passing throughout much of the field. Still, even with the additional grip, the high speeds on the reconfigured high banks still proved treacherous, with a number of entries proving able to loosen cars significantly by taking air off the spoilers.

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