NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Thompson in Turn 5: Tony Stewart Rude, Crude & 1 of the Best

I’m not sure who I rank as the best all-around driver I have ever witnessed do battle on a racetrack; but of the three at the top of my list, only one is still active… Tony Stewart. (Mario Andretti and AJ Foyt round out my own personal all-time top three). That’s not a particularly controversial list of picks, to be sure – and certainly easy enough to defend. Of course, that’s just as long as the debate is confined to how each of these drivers handle themselves while in the driver’s seat of a variety of differing types of racecars… either on dirt or asphalt. For how they behave outside the racetrack is a whole different story altogether.

Talking NASCAR TV: Dramatic Richmond Race Had ESPN Covering All Sides

ESPN’s ability to simply broadcast the race turned into its own separate drama altogether. Since Hanna hit Richmond late on Friday, all of the television equipment was in place and used to cover practice and the pending qualifying sessions for both series. As the storm hit, crews scrambled to uninstall cameras, wires, dishes, and any other important pieces whose functionality was in jeopardy if left in the storm. That same scramble began at 5 a.m. Sunday to set all that stuff back up, and started up again in the late night hours — after the Nationwide Series race — to tear it all down in what was a 20-hour workday for a dedicated crew.

10 Points to Ponder… After the 2008 Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond

1. How Low? – “When times are tough, there are certain things that are lower on the priority list than others,” said Dodge Motorsports senior manager Mike Delahanty in announcing that the company would not support any Craftsman Truck Series teams beginning next year. Actually, the only truck team that the manufacturer still funds was Bobby Hamilton Racing-Virginia. Dodge had previously enjoyed success in the series with the late Bobby Hamilton, winning a CTS championship with him in 2004 and then with Ted Musgrave and Ultra Motorsports in 2005. Low Priority? Is that an insult to the Craftsman Truck Series… or what?

Bubble Breakdown: Michael McDowell Into Top 35; Dave Blaney Into Bud Shootout

Forget the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship — the drivers in our bubble breakdown are chasing a few goals of their own. With 10 races to go in the 2008 NASCAR season, the battle to be locked in the field for 2009 has become a dogfight for five spots between seven teams separated by a total of 79 points. Also on the line for several Toyota cars is a berth in next year’s new-format Bud Shootout, in which the season’s top six performing Camrys will be selected to do battle in Daytona.

With so much at stake, how did our combatants position themselves for the final 10 weeks at Richmond? Read on to find out in this edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

And Then There Were 12: Richmond Unkind to David Ragan & Kasey Kahne

After 26 races, over 7,000 laps and waiting out a Tropical Storm; Sunday’s Chevy Rock & Roll 400 was the final chance for seven drivers to take their best shot at claiming one of the five remaining positions left in the 2008 Chase for the Championship. In the end, 12 drivers and teams can celebrate for an evening before the big test of battling for the championship starts — while two drivers and their teams are left thinking about what might have been.

Happy Hour: If Locked in the Chase, Why Race at Richmond?

Let’s ask the question: if a team has clinched a spot in the Chase, might they take a week or even two weeks off to rest the driver, the crew members, and/or the engine builders? The off weeks in the season are almost all in the first half of the year, and the second half has 16 weeks straight of racing (shortened to 12 next season). If they have almost nothing to gain by racing at Richmond except a very slightly possible 10 points, why not consider sitting out?

Driven to the Past: Even Founding Fathers Can Have a Sense of Humor

Excuse me for getting off stock car racing for this week, folks, but the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals reminded me of one of my favorite people. When we lost Wally Parks last year at the age of 94, we lost another legend. Those of you who could care less about drag racing — or even any kind of racing for that matter — may never have heard of Wally Parks. To me, that’s unbelievable. I knew Wally’s name from before I was in junior high here in Kentucky, when I was already reading Hot Rod Magazine and he was the editor. I knew he was the head of the Southern California Timing Association, which ran speed trials on the dry lakes, and I read all about it in 1951 as he founded the National Hot Rod Association — effectively becoming the founding father of professional drag racing.

Side by Side: Should a Winless Season Shut You Out of the Chase?

Today’s Question: Heading to Richmond, we know that at least four of the 12 drivers in this year’s Chase will have entered the playoffs not having won a race yet. Should a win be a requirement to be eligible to win the championship, or would it be unfair to cut off winless drivers who haven’t yet earned their stripes in Victory Lane?

Voices from the Heartland: Well, That About Wraps It Up For Ganassi – The Sequel

Being the egotistical sort of creature that I am, I often — upon hearing certain news items come out of the NASCAR garage — go back through my archives to assure myself that I do, in fact, know what I am talking about. Turns out that’s the case once again this week, as another set of my opinions came true after hearing the blithering idiocy recently spouted by none other than Felix Sabates of Chip Ganassi Racing with… Felix Sabates.

Fanning the Flames: Recent Hires Show NASCAR Owners Heading in a Familiar Direction

Q: Hi Matt! My question is about Dario Franchitti. I can’t say I was surprised to see him not perform well in his first season. Not that Dario isn’t a great driver… he is, just not in NASCAR. My question is, do you think Chip Ganassi pulled the trigger too early on Franchitti, or did he want to go back to open-wheel anyway?

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from