NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Driven to the Past: Relieving Shorty/Charley & the Wasps

I remember one of those looonnng ARCA races (we ran a couple that were 600-lappers) when Shorty was still flagging. I was in the infield, and somebody grabbed my shoulder and pointed to the flagstand. Shorty was pointing at me, wanting my attention. When I looked his way, he started patting his head – the accepted signal (again, before radios) for “I need relief.” When I noticed that his legs were also crossed, I knew what the problem was.

Happy Hour: From 207 Points Up To 74 Points Down; What’s Wrong With This Picture?

20 laps into the 27th race this season, an enigmatic driver, who had been wiping up the floor with most of the competition for 26 races, had his season more or less destroyed. Eight wins in 26 races meant only that he’s eligible for the title–one faulty sway bar bolt in one race has effectively negated even that. It would have been rough enough to take the slam of a 34th-place finish because of a 50-cent part, but combined with the Big Points Giveaway, that part resulted in a shift of 281 points and seven positions in the standings in one week. Of course it’s not technically over for Kyle Busch. But even as great as he is and has been all season, would you bet on him now?

BSNews! Roid ‘Rage In NASCAR? And Bobby Hamilton Jr. Eyes Short Stint in Cup

Team Rensi Motorsports is facing a December shutdown if new sponsorship cannot be found, but Nationwide Series driver Bobby Hamilton, Jr. says he is not ready to quit driving just yet. But, said one anonymous insider, “The main obstacle he faces is that, in the Cup Series, most owners have — just as do most theme parks — minimum ride height requirements.”

Fanning the Flames: Ganassi’s Woes, Gibbs’s Rookie & Gordon’s Typical Loudon Stunts

Q: Richmond was one of the few races this year that actually lived up to the hype. It’s what we should have seen at Bristol and didn’t. So, is the crapshoot [of short-track racing] the CoT, or is the “new” track at Bristol more to blame for the lack of intensity and excitement?

Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans: Dodging Trouble During The Monster Mile’s Playoff Push

The Chase is now officially underway, and the wild position swings that accompany the first few weeks of the sprint to the finish were very evident this past weekend. The biggest mover – in the wrong direction – was Kyle Busch, who went from the dominant driver in the points to eighth place while taking down several fantasy teams in his wake. Will Kyle Busch be able to shake off the horrific luck of Loudon and turn the lemons into lemonade this weekend? Read on for this week’s Picks ‘N’ Pans to see which drivers should be started this week – and which ones would rather be anywhere but the first state.

Thompson in Turn 5: Ron Hornaday’s Testosterone Use – The Story That Should Have Never Been Told

As the media fanfare surrounding the first race of the 10-event Chase for the Sprint Cup heated up last week, news that defending Craftsman Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. had used steroids stole the headlines. Not just motorsports headlines, mind you… sports headlines, period. ESPN The Magazine broke the story that three-time CTS champion Hornaday had admitted to the use of testosterone from December of 2004 to January of 2006 — without telling NASCAR. It was a story that, when fully considered, should never have been told.

Mirror Driving: Biffle Breaks Out, Is Busch a Bust? & the Trucks Brawl

Sunday’s New Hampshire race featured a variety of incidents that relegated Chase contenders to poor finishes. Can Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth overcome their lackluster showings and contend — or are they NHMS’ annual victims who will never recover?

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 Sylvania 300 at Loudon Edition

The Chase is finally here, and after one race, there’s something very strange about the standings — Kyle Busch isn’t leading. An array of problems at NHMS knocked Busch from his perch atop the championship ladder, dropping him all the way to eighth while his two toughest competitors (Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards) stepped up to share the points lead he’d owned for the better part of the last four months. But Busch shouldn’t panic, as there’s still a long way to go until the champion is crowned. To see who looks primed to make a run at the championship — and who’s already primed to bow out of the running — check out this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup.

Talking NASCAR TV: Classic ESPN Speed World Links Past Success, Failure With Present Coverage

Despite all of the resources and talent ESPN possesses, its 2008 NASCAR coverage has been less than spectacular at best. Some moves made in preparation for and during the season — like replacing Rusty Wallace with Dale Jarrett in the booth — have proven to be ingenius, especially since Wallace seems to fit in well with his new role down in the Pit Studio. But other moves, like choosing to keep Dr. Jerry Punch as the play-by-play man, show that the network does not have a full grasp yet on all the moves it needs to make.

With that said, Sunday’s New Hampshire race did not contain many errors on ESPN’s part. The telecast was clearly solid; but there were no great improvements, either. The most notable offender for me was Punch, who continued to prove that he belongs in the pit road reporter gang instead of upstairs with Andy Petree and Dale Jarrett.

With ratings down and fans asking for better these days, where can the network figure out how to learn from its mistakes? The answer is exceedingly simple — look at their own little slice of history.

10 Points to Ponder… After the 2008 Sylvania 300 at Loudon

1. Not Keepin’ Up With The Times – This past week, Kyle Petty took on NASCAR for not being able to control the number of teams an owner operates, as well as keeping a level playing field for smaller organizations. Petty cited the recent alliance of Stewart-Haas Racing with Hendrick Motorsports as an example, nicknaming the new team “Hendrick South.” The son of NASCAR legend Richard Petty also made reference to “partnerships” between Roush Fenway Racing and Yates Racing, along with Richard Childress Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc., too.

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