Articles

Ratings May Have Been Down, But PIR Left Little To Complain About

The debate over why folks continue to turn off and tune out NASCAR rages on. Fuel for the debate is the steadily declining television rating numbers that were posted for last Saturday night's Sprint Cup race from Phoenix International Raceway. The theory that there is a significant decline in fan interest has been reinforced as of late by the whopping 18% drop in at-home-viewers when compared to last year's running of the Subway Fresh Fit 500K. In fact, year-to-date FOX Broadcasting ratings are down some 14% in viewer numbers versus their first nine point-earning race telecasts in 2008. That considerable drop is a definitive indication that NASCAR is in a state of decline.

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Frontstretch Fantasy Insider: Picking The ‘Dega Drafting Lane That’s Moving Forward

The fantasy wild card weekend that is Talladega looms on the horizon. The "Big One," which happens more times than not, can take out a player's entire fantasy team in one fell swoop -- or, it could cause a player's team to sweep into the top 10 when most of the other competition is taken out. Some drivers who have been struggling this year may benefit from this type of restrictor plate weekend, while others who have exceeded expectations could be brought right back down to Earth. On a track that's so unpredictable, how can you turn the odds in your favor? Read on to see who the Frontstretch fantasy experts feel will tiptoe around the wrecks in their latest edition of Fantasy Insider.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2009 Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix Edition

Another one bit the dust in the sands out west at Phoenix Saturday night. But as the smoke cleared from the Cup Series' eighth race of the season, we're left with plenty of storylines from a weekend's worth of action at PIR. Mark Martin became one of the oldest drivers ever to win a NASCAR race, scoring his first victory in nearly four years, while points leader Jeff Gordon surrendered nearly half his lead because of a late-race pit-road miscue -- garnering him his first finish outside the top 15 all year. Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, and Tony Stewart’s solid finishes will keep Gordon honest atop the standings heading into this weekend's restrictor-plate showdown at Talladega.

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Beyond the Cockpit: Scott Lagasse Jr. on 2009 at CJM Racing

Left unemployed in the middle of last season, a few chance meetings with some friends of friends landed Scott Lagasse Jr. in his current ride in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, the No. 11 CJM Racing Toyota. And after a rough start -- he wrecked twice in seven starts to finish off the end of 2008 -- this season has seen him finally have a chance to get comfortable behind the wheel. Lagasse currently sits 13th in points with two top-10 finishes, proving a strong competitor in an exciting Rookie of the Year battle with Brendan Gaughan and Justin Allgaier. Frontstretch’s Doug Turnbull had a chance to speak with Lagasse about his journey to get to this point, his future racing plans, how he feels about Cup drivers racing in the Nationwide Series, and his stance on start-and-park teams. Lagasse joined this edition of Beyond the Cockpit from behind the wheel of his rental car leaving the airport in Phoenix – with his bosses sitting right next to him!

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Fan’s View: Wondering “Where Does Ask.com Get These Ideas”?

There is a point at which my sense of happy-go-lucky NASCAR fan gets irritated. Ask.com has destroyed my ability to chuckle at anything bearing the company logo. Why, you ask? I laughed hysterically when NASCAR launched their “How Bad Do You Have It?” campaign years ago. The champagne showers in the living room, burnouts in front of your house, sculpted shrubberies, hair-dye, bumper stickers… almost every episode struck a chord with me. I could, and still can, understand the kind of silly stuff fans do in the name of their favorite past-time.

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5 Points to Ponder: 2009 Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix Edition

*R-E-S-P-E-C-T* How cool was it to see the procession of drivers come through Victory Lane and congratulate Martin following his first win in nearly four years? The 50-year-old vet was joined by current teammates, former teammates, his former owner Jack Roush, and other past champions. This was as popular of a win as we’ve seen in quite awhile, and it really goes to show what respect can do for a driver. There is not one person in the garage who does not respect Martin… something younger drivers of today need to learn to earn.

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Bubble Breakdown: Sam Hornish Jr. Rips Off First Top 10 of 2009, Solidifies Locked-In Spot

Bad news has hit one of our bubble teams since the last race at Texas. After several patchwork sponsorship deals to keep the team afloat through March, the No. 8 Chevrolet driven by Aric Almirola has been shut down due to a lack of funding. Earnhardt Ganassi Racing plans to bring everyone back once sponsorship is found, but with the car sitting outside the Top 35, sponsors aren’t really lining up to throw money at them. Despite that disappointment, there was also plenty of good news coming out of Phoenix, too. Several teams sitting outside the Top 35 posted top-10 qualifying performances, while another one fighting to stay inside it actually managed to finish there. So, read on to see who’s moving up and who’s moving in the opposite direction in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown:

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