NASCAR Race Weekend Central

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not In Sprint Cup: 2009 Daytona 500 Edition

Some teams came out of the block strong following good runs in Sunday’s Daytona 500. Due to the nature of restrictor-plate racing, fate can play a major role in which teams are successful and which head to California hoping to get their season on the right track. And while it's easy to get caught up in the hype of NASCAR's Super Bowl, following intermediate track races at California, Las Vegas, and Atlanta will play a much larger role than Daytona in determining which teams and drivers are actually contenders and pretenders for the championship. Here are the hot, warm, and cold drivers following the Great American Race:

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A Tradition That Goes Fast and Left

Well, that was fun. No, really! You have to admit that even with new rules changes, new teams, new double line, NASCAR applying different rules to different drivers and a rain-shortened event, you liked it. You can’t help it! You’re a NASCAR fan, and if there’s one thing that really drives this fact home every year, it’s the annual running of the Daytona 500.

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7 Points to Ponder: 2009 Daytona 500 Edition

While there was plenty of talk this month about Mark Martin’s winless streak in the Daytona 500, the guy he used to drive for had quite a winless streak of his own. Jack Roush has competed in the Daytona 500 every year since 1988, and has had a multi-car operation since 1992 without ever winning the Great American Race. Ironically, after waiting 21 years, the crew chief that got Roush and Kenseth to Victory Lane, Drew Blickensderfer, was calling his first Cup race atop the pit box.

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AJ Allmendinger Opens 2009 With Career-Best Run

With the weight off his shoulders just by making the Daytona 500, AJ Allmendinger came out and ran the race of his life in the 51st running of the prestigious event. The young Richard Petty Motorsports driver who is set to run only the first eight races of the season, pending sponsorship, ran in the top 12 for the entire second half of the race, leaving Daytona with a career best finish of third. Sitting at the podium in the media center following the race, Allmendinger could have easily blasted the teams that have given up on him in the past; but the former open-wheel driver did just the opposite.

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Bubble Breakdown: AJ Allmendinger Sticks the Landing While Joey Logano Sticks It in the Wall

The 2009 Sprint Cup season officially kicked off Sunday afternoon with the running of the Daytona 500; and with that, the battle for the Top 35 is on. For those of you new to the sport, the Top 35 teams in owner points are locked into the starting grid each week. For the first five races of the season, NASCAR uses the owner standings from the previous year, then reverts to the current season’s standings from there on out. So while the Top 35 are locked in for the first few races, the jockeying for position has begun with the bubble teams in an effort to transfer into a locked in spot when the series visits Martinsville in a month and a half. Read on to see who improved their position and who is already behind the eight-ball in this week's edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

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Beyond the Cockpit: Colin Braun on Truck Racing, Year 2

In his rookie season last year in the Camping World truck series, Colin Braun amassed eight top 10s in 25 starts and finished 13th in points, claiming Rookie of the Year honors. His 2009 campaign got off to a good start, grabbing the pole for the season opening NextEra Energy Resources 250 and finishing ninth. Frontstretch caught up with the 20-year-old driver prior to his impressive Daytona run at the NASCAR Media Day to discuss is confidence level heading into 2009 and whether or not he would consider going back to sports car racing.

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Thompson in Turn 5: For Michael Waltrip, Due Respect

NASCAR’s resident funny-man, corporate promoter extraordinaire and one of three owner/drivers in the Sprint Cup Series is geared-up and offering his opinions on most anything NASCAR, although that is not so unusual. Topping the list of issues that the 45-year old Waltrip, now in his third season as a team owner, expounded upon this week was the current ban on testing at NASCAR sanctioned tracks for competitors in its top five divisions. The testing prohibition, in place for the time being at least through the 2009 season, is in Michael Waltrip’s estimation “...a colossal waste of time and money.”

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Nationwide Rookie Michael Annett Eyes Another Daytona Victory

Racing has been in Michael Annett’s blood since birth. The 22-year-old Nationwide Series rookie’s first racing experience literally came days after his birthday when he attended the Knoxville Nationals less than one week after being born. Since that day in Knoxville, Iowa, Annett found success one ice where he was once a highly-touted hockey star and most recently back on the track where he will compete for Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year honors for Germain Racing.

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Happy Hour: NASCAR’s Biggest Problem – Jimmie Johnson

Few drivers in NASCAR history are as calm and measured when the cameras are on as Jimmie Johnson is. So Lowe’s, of course, couldn’t be happier with him, and you can’t blame them, especially given the headaches their biggest competitor had with their outspoken driver once. But Jimmie's demeanor may also be part of NASCAR’s ratings problem.

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