NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 Amp Energy 500 at Talladega Edition

In the end, after a number of Chasers raced conservatively for three quarters of the Talladega race in anticipation of the big wreck, it was ironically one Chaser tangling with another that triggered a multi-car pileup that included several of those in the top 12. No. 2 in points Carl Edwards ran over teammate and No. 3 man Greg Biffle to start a chain reaction that claimed 11 cars. One of the few Chasers surviving the race was points leader Jimmie Johnson, who opened up a sizable 72-point lead in the standings as a result. Johnson remains on the HOT list this week, but a surprising driver joins him, becoming a surprise player in this year’s championship battle. To see who it is, and whose Chase hopes went up in smoke, check out this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup, Chase Edition.

Talking NASCAR TV: ESPN Not Detail Oriented in ‘Dega

A defining race like Sunday’s slugfest at Talladega Superspeedway is only as important to those viewing it as the network covering the broadcast allows it to be. If details are left out or if the excitement factor is either too hyped or not ratcheted up enough, then the whole complexion of a race can turn out differently. ESPN did a pretty good job telling Sunday’s story on a macro level; but the ever-changing small details were the ones that often fell through the cracks.

10 Points to Ponder… After the 2008 Amp Energy 500 at Talladega

1. Change In Direction – Joey Logano, heir to the No. 20 Toyota presently driven by Sunday’s race winner Tony Stewart, will not compete in any further races this season in the No. 96 Hall of Fame Toyota. The 18-year-old Joe Gibbs Racing phenom had been scheduled to fill the driver’s seat in the HoF ride for three of the final six races of the Sprint Cup Season. “We talked to Gibbs and both decided that, for [Logano’s] development and for our team, this the best thing for all of us. The best thing for all of us is for them to focus on Joey’s development, and for us to focus on our team,” said the co-owner of HoF, Tom Garfinkel. Is that kind of like being fired?

Bubble Breakdown: Scott Riggs, Robby Gordon Post Top-10 Triumphs at ‘Dega

Not only is Talladega Superspeedway the “wild card” in the Chase for the Cup, it’s also the wildcard in the Chase for the Top 35. ‘Dega has been defined by the big wreck that everyone knows is coming at some point, and a bubble team can make up an enormous amount of points by missing the Big One that eats up a large number of their competitors. Add in the fact that this is an impound race, and it makes for a sleepless weekend for a team’s crew chief. Teams outside the Top 35 set their cars up to qualify, not race, resulting in many bubble teams starting up front. That does not, however, mean they’re gonna finish there. To see which teams were able to translate good starting positions into top finishes, read on for this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown:

Happy Hour: What Should Be Done About Multi-Car Teams?

The furor over the dominance of multi-car teams reached its peak in 2005, when half of the Chase field consisted of Jack Roush’s machines. Especially in a season where the immensely popular Dale Earnhardt Jr., driving for a much smaller operation, failed to make the Chase, it seemed unfair to many fans that two powerhouses with twice the ability to practice, test, and learn seemed to dominate the circuit. And so, responding to these complaints, NASCAR announced they would be knocking down the multi-car operations, starting with Jack Roush.

Driven to the Past: The Big Fuel Gamble

Anyway, Leonard Blanchard, a pretty decent driver who had just run third or fourth in the late model feature, mentioned that he was thinking about hauling his 1967 Fairlane up to Indianapolis Raceway Park the next day to run a 250-mile USAC race on the road course. Seems he had found out they needed a couple of more cars to fill out the field. He asked if I knew anything about the track. I replied that I’d been to a few races at both their oval and the road course as well as the drag strip, and knew it was a 2.5-mile course with the drag strip as the front straightaway. “Well,” Leonard replies, “you know more about it than we do, you are now the crew chief.”

Voices from the Heartland: Kansas Casino Proves That, Yes Virginia, There is a NASCAR Monopoly

I want a NASCAR date. Do you think I can get one? The answer, sadly, is “NO.” Why? Because I am not a member of the France Family. Instead, my petition for a race date has been awarded to the low-banked, 1.5-mile, lackluster track known as Kansas Speedway, which already had enough dates to begin with (one). The reason for the snub is because Kansas Speedway is owned and operated by that dreaded entity known as ISC. And ISC, while it is a publicly traded company, is controlled by the France family — with Lesa France Kennedy at the helm. Who are the people doling out the race dates for ISC? Well, that would be a private company, NASCAR, with Lesa’s brother, Brian France, as the CEO.

Rick Crawford Driver Diary: What Happens in Vegas…?

Rick Crawford drives the No. 14 Circle Bar Racing Ford in the Craftsman Truck Series. In his 12th full season, he’s currently sixth in the standings with six top fives and 11 top-10 finishes to show for his efforts in 2008. Every four weeks, he’ll also write a diary for Frontstretch to show how his on and off-track efforts are going. Here’s his latest entry, as told to Toni Montgomery.

Fanning the Flames: Talking Plates, Allmendingers & Last-Lap Dashes Heading Into Talladega

Q: Hi Matt. My question is why would Hall of Fame Racing take Joey Logano out of the No. 96 car? Is this a directive of Joe Gibbs, or is HoF acting on its own? Logano got off to a bad start, but he’s only 18! Isn’t it best for them all to let him finish out the season there?

Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans: Avoiding the Talladega Big One That Destroys Your Team

With so many unknowns at Talladega, where do you turn? Of course, the Chase favorites have to be considered for your team, but which ones? Points leader Jimmie Johnson is peaking earlier in the playoffs than usual; but can he avoid causing the Big One this weekend and get a win? Or will it be second-place Carl Edwards overcoming the dark history of Roush at Talladega and actually running well on a plate track? And of course, there’s the Kyle Busch enigma; will he finally get the black cloud removed from over his head and back up his Talladega win from earlier this year? Read this week’s Picks ‘N’ Pans to find out, discovering what drivers should be running for you on Sunday – and which ones you should avoid at all costs.

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