NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: Kansas Kind To First-Time Victors

This weekend, the Camping World Truck Series heads off to Kansas Speedway for a little Saturday afternoon action at the 1.5-mile oval. In 12 previous visits to the facility, no driver has even been a repeat winner — yet. But perhaps what’s more interesting is that of those 12 different victors, four happened to notch their first career trip to victory lane at the speedway. With an entry list 37 strong and only four previous winners at Kansas entered (Johnny Sauter, Ron Hornaday, Jr., Todd Bodine and James Buescher), the likelihood of adding a 13th different winner is pretty high.

But until the checkered flag flies on Saturday afternoon, I’d like to take a look at the drivers who did score their first wins at the track and where they are now.

Penske Penalities – Passive Pusnishment for Past Sins?

Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and the entire Penske organization have had a tumultuous last few weeks. First, the dust up at Fontana with Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart for Logano, Saturday night’s exercise in stress management with getting the cars yanked out of inspection and on the grid as everybody else was getting ready to …

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Side By Side: Will Junior Retire As A Champion Or An Also-Ran?

_Welcome back to Side By Side. There are always two sides to every story, and we’re going to bring them both, right here, every week. Two of our staff writers will face off on an important racing question … feel free to tell us what you think in the weekly poll and also in the comments section below!_

*This Week’s Question:Will Dale Earnhardt, Jr. win a Sprint Cup championship before he retires?*

Kevin Rutherford, Senior Writer: Earnhardt, Jr. Will Win the Ultimate Prize

OK, I get it. Despite being NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver for a decade and having one of the most famous last names in all of auto racing, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. hasn’t exactly lived up to the throngs of cheers he’s received on race day.

Life At the 55: Jackman Tony Cardamone on Work-Life Balance, Rivalries and Injuries

_Frontstretch Readers – We know that you love our driver diary series, which gives you an inside look at the lives of NASCAR’s stars. Now, we are taking it to a whole new level! Fans love stock car racing for many reasons, one of which is that it is the ultimate team sport. While the driver ultimately hoists the trophy in Victory Lane, it is the blood, sweet and tears of men and women behind the scenes that ultimately drive the success of the team._

_New for 2013, Frontstretch is proud to introduce the “55 Team Diary” which will provide insights from different people who contribute to the accomplishments of Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 55 Toyota. Kicking off this series is Tony Cardamone, who serves as the jackman and mechanic on the Aaron’s Dream Machine and has become an integral part of the weekend road crew that travels to each event. We hope you enjoy this first installment of the 55 Team Diary, where Cardamone shares his thoughts on work/life balance and the latest headlines in NASCAR today, as told to our Tony Lumbis._

The Legendary Long Beach Grand Prix and How It Became a Signature Event

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The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is a strange creature, indeed. It’s been a marquee event on three different racing series; was twice essentially saved by Mario Andretti, who was merely doing what Mario Andretti did best; features a winner’s list that looks like a Who’s Who of Motorsports for the past 40 years; has a title sponsor that is an auto manufacturer who isn’t even involved in the racing; and was the swan song of the series that called it home for the longest time in one of the strangest twists of all.

This Sunday will be the 39th running of the event that was the brainchild of a local travel agent and race fan, Chris Pook. That makes it the longest running major street race held in North America. Pook initially tried the concept in 1975, as a Formula 5000 race and when that went well, attracting some 46,000 fans, he followed up six months later with a Formula One race that also was a moderate success.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 After Texas

Kyle Busch completed the second weekend sweep of the year, winning both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway. His win Saturday night was his first Sprint Cup victory at Texas, second of the season and 26th of his career. Kyle led a race-high 171 laps and took the top spot from Martin Truex, Jr. after a speedy final pit stop. It was heartbreak for Truex, who led 142 laps and was one of the strongest cars all night.

Numbers Game: Texas

Numbers Game: NRA 500 by Tom Bowles 0 Laps led by Roush Fenway Racing, the defending champion of the race (with driver Greg Biffle). Since Carl Edwards’ win at Phoenix, the three teams have combined to lead a grand total of one lap – and that was from Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (Las Vegas). 1 Lap …

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Five Points: Ranting About Fines, Kyle’s Win And Vickers’ Vigor

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One of the things I enjoy the most about our current champion is that he is not afraid to speak his mind, giving his honest opinion. It’s a quality you need in a driver who is very much the face of the sport right now and, as the champion, I think it’s even more the case that Brad should say what he thinks. But when I first heard Keselowski’s forthright comments Saturday night, my immediate thought was that his two minutes was going to cost around $50,000 – especially when compared to Denny Hamlin’s much milder comments after the Phoenix race which resulted in a $25,000 penalty for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

But on “FOX Business News”:http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/2302666422001/nascars-green-effort/?playlist_id=937116503001 Monday morning, NASCAR head honcho Brian France confirmed that Brad would not be receiving a fine even though he noted, “I would certainly disagree with everything he said.” France went on to suggest that Keselowski was just blowing off steam.

Kansas: A Potential Turning Point for Struggling (Or Winning) Drivers

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*turning point*
_n._
*1.* The point at which a very significant change occurs; a decisive moment.
*2.* Mathematics A maximum or minimum point on a curve.

The turning point of one’s season, if there is ever one at all, could conceivably occur anytime during a given year. However, in order for one’s season needing to be turned around at all, there has to have been much of a season at all to that point. A driver could have a really poor Daytona 500, for example but if everything afterward goes fairly swimmingly, that’s not a turnaround from poor results; that’s just a good season blemished by an early outlier. The same can apply to a rough end of the season after 34 or 35 spectacular showings.

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