NASCAR Race Weekend Central

ARCA Road Racers Add Flavor to Stout Nationwide Field at the Glen

Coming off what was a stellar standalone stretch featuring back-to-back short track races, the Nationwide Series turns left (and right) into Watkins Glen International. Just as with any companion race, there’s plenty of chatter surrounding the Cup regulars ready to leave their mark, be they five-time champion Jimmie Johnson in a rare minor league start or Kurt Busch filling in for the injured Brad Keselowski. There’s also the usual cast of road ringers, with 2008 Montreal winner Ron Fellows, Kyle Kelley and others making an appearance.

The lesser-told story is that of the ARCA Racing Series entrants that will be making the rounds on the New York road course this weekend. Three different situations, three different teams, and three different ways that a few of the lesser known drivers in the field just might have a dramatic impact on Saturday’s Zippo 200.

Did You Notice? … A Tilt Towards Strategy, Not Speed, And Four Rookies That Could Have Been

*Did You Notice?* … Why so many races have switched towards a fuel mileage strategy? In the last few months, it’s the number one question/concern/complaint I get from fans, eager to know why the multitude of this year’s races have been won via a calculator, feathering the throttle and shutting off the engine – seemingly the opposite of a sport built on speed.

For answers, it’s pretty simple. Let’s go to the quotes of the drivers themselves.

Top Ten Free Agency Deals Carl Edwards Turned Down

*10.* *From Michael Waltrip Racing:* A NAPA KnowHow karaoke machine, free with a Michael Waltrip mixtape and brochure: How To Sell Your Sponsors And Annoy People 101.

*9.* *From Richard Petty Motorsports:* A check that doesn’t actually bounce… but we can’t guarantee that next month.

*8.* *From Earnhardt Ganassi Racing:* One free payback “incident” for any driver of choice, courtesy Juan Pablo Montoya’s front bumper.

Michael Leavine to Run NNS for Grandfather’s Team in 2012

Michael Leavine, grandson of Cup team owner Bob Leavine, made his second career ARCA start at Pocono this past weekend carrying the exact same paint scheme David Starr sported in the Coca-Cola 600 back in May. Driving a limited schedule this year for PGM Racing in the ARCA Racing Series, Leavine is scheduled to make …

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Bubble Breakdown: Rookie Lally Fighting Off His Rivals At Pocono

_It was a tough weekend for the bubble crowd at Pocono, where even strategy calls didn’t seem to keep the underdogs in contention for long. Without a top-25 result from anyone, the race became more a matter of survival than success, a day at the office with little if anything to hang their hat on. Pocono has a history of tearing up equipment, and more than one driver found himself babying it to the finish in the name of keeping their status intact in owner points._

_So after a weak weekend overall, which teams continue to stand out above the rest? And could rookie Andy Lally keep quietly impressing, just one week after Robby Gordon’s blown engine handed his team, TRG Motorsports a spot inside the top 35? Check out the Bubble Breakdown this week to see how the battle to keep a “locked in” spot is shaking out amongst NASCAR’s little teams that could…_

Nationwide Series Breakdown: U.S. Cellular 250

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Roush Fenway Racing’s Mustangs had finished 1-2 four times this season prior to Saturday night’s race at Iowa, so Ricky Stenhouse Jr. beating Carl Edwards to the stripe wasn’t the most remarkable outcome statistically. But this finish was so much more. In a race that saw the two teammates trade paint and get hot under the collar for the second consecutive week, Stenhouse had nearly a second on Edwards heading into the final corner when his engine expired. Edwards, who had enough momentum to clear the No. 6 and steal the win, got caught up in the cloud of smoke and oil from the expired motor, slammed into the back of Stenhouse’s car, and in doing so secured the second career win for the current points leader. Edwards, polesitter Elliott Sadler, Josh Wise and Aric Almirola rounded out the top 5.

Did You Notice? … NASCAR’s Real Silly Season Story: Not Carl, Contraction

*Did You Notice?*… The reason the Carl Edwards saga won’t go away? Sure, the sport’s most popular free agent has been begging for privacy, impossible to receive in this age of public transparency where every celebrity’s move is documented in full. Too many drivers, team members, and heck, even sponsors are affected by this decision for them to sit in silence, working off Carl’s schedule as the clock slowly ticks towards Homestead.

But the sad part about this whole scenario is these people are on edge because, just like the current economy, NASCAR is very much an _employer’s_ market. Drivers like Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Trevor Bayne, even Brian Vickers know their _only_ opportunities could come if Edwards opens the door – and a ride – at Roush Fenway Racing. That’s it; there’s no plan B, temp agency or million-dollar reality game show ready to save them.

The Bookies Never Get It Wrong

After nearly four years of writing a weekly column, there are some weeks when the articles almost write themselves. You have the basic idea, for example: “Why Carl Edwards will be the driver to unseat the champion,” and you find yourself able to riff your way to a thousand words with hopefully some salient and pertinent points that support your case. Of course, if in doubt there’s always Dale Earnhardt Jr. who is an endless source of column topics. Frankly, you could probably write about the correlation between the length of Junior’s scruff (beard) and his race finishes and a ton of people would read it.

Bubble Breakdown: A Day Of Near-Misses For Cassill, Bayne

_The most important battle around the Top 35 bubble remains the fight for the 35th position. The No. 13, with Casey Mears on board soldiered home with a 29th-place finish, further distancing themselves from the dreaded cutoff. Robby Gordon had an engine failure extremely early in the event, resulting in a DNF and a major hit in points while Andy Lally had a quiet day, beating Mears to the line and notching a 26th-place finish to snag that spot. Travis Kvapil may have been the biggest loser of all, though; weeks after losing his Truck ride, he failed to qualify in his return to the No. 38 Cup car and severely damaged that team’s hope of reentering the top 35. Finally, Trevor Bayne rebounded from an early pit stop and came home 30th which moved him closer to the 35th slot, although they are still running a limited schedule and probably doomed to life outside the Top 35._

Bubble Breakdown: Indy (36th-39th)

#71 Andy Lally / TRG Motorsports Ford Incoming Owner Points Ranking: 36th (-7 behind 35th) Sunday’s Finish: 26th Current Owner Points Ranking: 35th (+10 ahead of 36th) Normally, a 26th place finish is not really anything to write home about. But for Andy Lally and TRG Motorsports, that 26th place finish might as well have …

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