Race Weekend Central

5 Points to Ponder: 2009 Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Edition

I’m not sure if Mark Martin haters even exist, but if they did, not even they would have thought Martin would sit 34th in driver points after four races. The popular pick for the 2009 championship is now in danger of falling out of the Top 35 in owner points after Sunday’s tire failure… but don’t expect that worst-case scenario to happen.

Bubble Breakdown: TRG Making Miracles with David Gilliland While Mark Martin Just Hanging On

The Kobalt Tools 500 marked the fourth race in the 2009 season, meaning there is just one more event to get into the Top 35 in owner points before NASCAR shifts to this year’s standings to determine who is or isn’t locked into the starting grid each week. This made the race at Atlanta critical for many, as no one wants to have to go to Bristol under pressure to post a stellar finish – the race in Thunder Valley is one of the more unpredictable races on the circuit. To see which big name teams fell short at AMS and will head to Tennessee a nervous wreck – as well as which smaller teams have surprised everyone by driving safely into the Top 35 – read on in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

Happy Hour: 8 Years Ago in Atlanta

To say that Dale Earnhardt’s untimely death struck the motorsports world like a sledgehammer blow to the head would be an understatement. NASCAR Nation was badly shaken in the wake of the Intimidator’s passing. Despite Dale’s departure from this Earth in a way that one could have seen happening – the proverbial “he died doing what he loved” – it still put us all into a state of incredulous shock. It seemed so wrong. Earnhardt was happier than he had ever been, looking forward to another season of racing. He was supposed to retire comfortably, run his new team until reaching a ripe old age, and see his son follow in his footsteps. It wasn’t supposed to be over so suddenly before his 50th birthday.

Fanning the Flames: Drivers Weigh In on the Test Ban & Crew Chiefs Weigh In on a Driver

Q: What’s up with Sadler the last two weeks? He looked so good at Daytona but really bad at California and Las Vegas. I hoped the contract problems he had in the offseason would light a fire under him. Is Richard Petty Motorsports using the [new] Dodge engines?

Thompson in Turn 5: No Need for Jeff Gordon to Toot His Own Horn

Last Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, fans witnessed one of the city’s “favorite sons,” Kyle Busch, charge from the (almost) rear of the field to dominate the final laps of the Shelby 427. In the process, Busch improved his ranking in the Sprint Cup driver standings 12 positions, putting himself right back into contention for the season-long title. The 23-year-old Busch now heads into next week’s showdown at the super-fast Atlanta Motor Speedway sixth in points, trailing new leader Jeff Gordon by just 59.

Frontstretch Fantasy Insider: Filling the Toolbox for Atlanta Success

After a re-energizing weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the Cup Series heads to its fastest track for a 500-miler, driving on asphalt that rivals even Darlington in terms of abrasiveness. Atlanta Motor Speedway is a unique intermediate circuit, one that is largely dependent on handling and a driver willing to move all over the racetrack. With differing characteristics than Las Vegas and Fontana, it’s a quad-oval quagmire that forces you to make some major changes to your 1.5-mile lineup. But players, don’t despair – Frontstretch’s Fantasy Insiders are going to give you the lowdown on who to choose and who to chastise, avoiding those pesky engine woes in the process to help you rim-ride to a fantasy W this weekend.

Mirror Driving: NASCAR’s Red-Flag Fiasco, Gordon’s Great Start &Which Small Teams Can Survive?

NASCAR had an up and down weekend in Las Vegas. There were three red flags during the Nationwide race, but none in the Sprint Cup Series event the following day despite several late crashes. Should NASCAR have thrown the red when Paul Menard pounded the wall with 17 laps to go, or was keeping the cars under caution the right thing to do?

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