Race Weekend Central

Driven to the Past: No, Really! I’m Serious… ly Kidding

I keep thinking about some of the offbeat suggestions I’ve made over the years that have made the “powers that be” simply roll their eyes and walk away.

Last year sometime, I mentioned my idea of using plastic bags filled with yellow or black paint to get the attention of drivers who didn’t pay attention to that color flag.
Simply splatter one on a windshield and they get the message, I figured. ASA didn’t think much of that one, but I still think it would work. Nowadays, you wouldn’t need the bags. A paintball gun would work very well.

Fanning the Flames: Confusing Contingency Awards, NASCAR’s Aero Dependence Gone Awry & Rain-Outs

Q: Hey Matt. My friend and I were talking after the race and I noticed on the internet that Ryan Newman was awarded the WIX Filters Lap Leader of the Race [at Atlanta]. We talked about it, and I did some looking and couldn’t figure out why. We were both always of the understanding that the driver that leads the most laps should win it. What’s the story?

Voices from the Heartland: Bailing on the Auto Bailout, Loving Las Vegas & Other Post-Vacation Thoughts

For the last two weekends, I have been in Las Vegas. The first weekend, I was there with my girlfriend and a couple of friends to take in the wonders of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The second weekend, I was there for bowling – but that is a horror story for another publication. The good news is, the sunburn that I started at LVMS (and finished poolside during a short trip to the Los Angeles area) is turning into a nice tan, and I managed to make it home with a couple of Ben Franklins still in my pocket! In short, life has been good. This was my first time to visit Bruton Smith’s track in the Nevada desert and, I must say, it was a wonderful experience. The whole “Neon Garage” experience is well worth the money (for one day anyway) and offers the average fan many views and opportunities to get close to the action that they may not get to experience at other tracks.

Thompson in Turn 5: Bruton Smith Dissin’ on South Florida, Homestead-Miami Speedway & President Obama

Speedway Motorsports Inc. President and CEO Bruton Smith seems to have adopted the “best defense is a good offense” philosophy last Friday while entertaining reporters at his Atlanta Motor Speedway. Smith, undoubtedly aware that the upcoming Sprint Cup race at the Hampton, Ga. 1.5-mile motorsports facility would be embarrassingly under-attended, instead took shots at southern Floridians, Homestead-Miami Speedway and the President of the United States.

Mirror Driving: Substitute Drivers, Runaway Tires & are the Busches the Best Siblings Ever?

Both NASCAR and a crewman from the No. 47 team, Jimmy Watts, took a lot of flack for the yellow flag that flew in the midst of a pit cycle as a result of the crewman chasing a tire, causing several good cars to be trapped a lap or more down. But was either one really wrong in their decision?

Beyond the Cockpit: David Ragan Talks UPS, Getting Aggressive & Roush’s Future

Much is expected of David Ragan in 2009 after having a breakthrough season in Sprint Cup in 2008. Coming within a Richmond wreck of making his first ever Chase for the Championship, the sophomore driver ended up 13th in the final standings, earning him a big-money reward in the form of new, top-tier sponsor UPS backing his No. 6 Ford Fusion. So far, it’s been a rough start for the duo, as the third-year driver sits 22nd in the Sprint Cup standings with as many DNFs as top-10 finishes (one). But in sitting down with our own Doug Turnbull at Atlanta, it’s obvious the tough luck hasn’t been bothering the 23-year-old young talent, who dished out mature, well-thought out opinions on everything from start-and-park teams to whether Roush Fenway Racing will actually follow through and contract from five to four cars in 2010.

Fan’s View: Chasing Tires & Consequences: A Crewman’s Desperate Disaster

It was the worst possible scenario. By lap 67, all but six cars had pitted on a green-flag run, then the dreaded yellow flag dropped. Unless you were one of the lucky fans whose driver had held off, the pit of your stomach dropped out. No… no… NO! Almost the entire field was a lap down! We bit our lips. What? Why! Who caused it? Already we could taste blood, anxious to bestow a withering blow to race control for declaring some infinitesimal piece of debris the culprit for the untimely caution. But in the end, we were to be awarded not even that dubious piece of justice. The replay showed a tire rolling across pit road and onto the grass in the frontstretch, followed by a hapless gasman, Jimmy Watts, from the No. 47 team running to retrieve it.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2009 Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Edition

As the 2009 season wears on, some of the teams that have had early success are finding themselves in a point standings freefall. As they disappear from view, the composition of the top 12 is starting to take form, with annual contenders slowly creeping towards and into that coveted threshold. The season may be early and the beginning of the Chase months away, but these men are proving they will be threats nearly every week. At the other end of the points are heavily-funded teams that find themselves one bad race away from beginning Martinsville, the first race that uses 2009 owner points, without the comfort of being locked in via the Top-35 rule. For them, the upcoming week off will be filled with little sleep and lots of worry, their very futures hanging in the balance on the high-banks of Bristol in two weeks.

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