NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Talking NASCAR TV: Terrible Tires Overshadow ESPN’s 2008 Debut

The big story following the Brickyard this week was the excessive tire wear that forced competition cautions and prompted drivers to play it safe. But lost in the crossfire between the fans (and media) versus NASCAR was ESPN’s debut covering the Sprint Cup Series in 2008. Unlike the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, the network’s coverage had many expected and some unexpected bright spots; but as the race wore on, there were also several flaws that kept the broadcast from being considered a total success.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard Edition

Tire problems provided an interesting twist to this week’s Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, allowing a number of teams to utilize pit strategy to capture unexpectedly strong finishes. One of those teams, the No. 84 of AJ Allmendinger, came home 10th, giving him his first top 10 and the best two-race stretch of his career. Up front, the suspense was far less dramatic. Jimmie Johnson was the strongest car and took home his second win of the season — becoming just the second man to win a stock car race at Indy from the pole. But behind the No. 48, who else had good runs? And with Chase bids on the line, who fell victim to tire problems out of their control? Check out this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup to find out how things are shaping up with just six races left until the playoffs.

10 Points to Ponder… After the 2008 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard

1. Yuck! – Max Mosley, President of the governing body that oversees Formula 1 racing — the most widely followed form of automobile racing in the world — won a breach or privacy lawsuit against a British tabloid this week. The magazine ran a story about the 68-year old’s sexual escapades that quickly got picked up by the international press, including one that included a role playing scenario which appeared to have Nazi overtones behind it. The Judge, in awarding $120,000 in damages to the F1 head said, “There was bondage, beating and domination, which seem to be typical of S&M behavior.”

Bubble Breakdown: Hidden Within Indy Madness, Scott Riggs, No. 66 Team Sneak Back Into Top 35

Amidst all the starting and stopping, crashes, and various pit strategies, an interesting subplot emerged concerning the usual slate of bubble teams. As the clouds lifted on a strange day of racing, Scott Riggs managed to post his second straight top-25 finish, giving his team enough of a boost to race their way back into the Top 35 in owner points. And if the No. 66 State Water Heaters Chevrolet is back in… then obviously, someone’s bubble just popped. Whose bubble was it, exactly, and how big of a hole have they dug for themselves starting at Pocono next week? To find out more, read on in this week’s installment of the Bubble Breakdown…

Happy Hour: Networks Prop Up The Chase; Real Fans Reject It

If you are a devoted sports fan, if you think the best man or woman should win, if you believe that the integrity of the outcome in any sport should be respected and preserved, if you think Bart Giamatti was right to expel Pete Rose from baseball, if at the very least you recognize that professional wrestling really isn’t a sport, then you cannot reasonably defend the Chase for the Sprint Cup on competition grounds. Your sports fan’s conscience shouldn’t allow it. Because when you get right down to it, the Chase does one thing and one thing only: it takes points away from drivers that were earned the only way points should ever be earned in motorsports: on the racetrack.

Doug Turnbull Mouths Off: Brickyard is Big, But Daytona Still Reigns Supreme

There is no doubt in my mind that a Daytona 500 win is more meaningful to every driver on the NASCAR circuit than a Brickyard win. That race has been the sport’s biggest race since the track’s opening in 1959. The speed demons on the beach in Daytona set the stage for not only how much Daytona would end up meaning to racing, but how big NASCAR would grow. When Bill France saw this potential and gathered that famous group of racing figures together at Daytona’s Streamline Hotel in 1947, the stage was set for Daytona to become the hub for stock car racing. When NASCAR started to grow and France wanted a crown jewel racetrack to rival Indianapolis, the high banks of Daytona International Speedway were born.

Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans: Prepping Your Team for Indy Glory

Hopefully, you enjoyed your off weekend and your fantasy team got well rested — because man, will they wind up needing that break. This weekend’s Brickyard 400 kicks off a grueling 17-race stretch to championship weekend at Homestead, and it’s time to get everything geared up and ready to go for the fantasy home stretch. Unless you went way out on a limb with your picks at Chicago, you likely didn’t see your team get blown away in the Windy City. But with the prestige of winning at the Brickyard up for grabs this weekend, every team is going to be bringing their “A” game this Sunday. As you prepare your team for a race of historic proportions, keep in mind the delicate balance between picking a driver who is hot at a particular track and which drivers were running well before the break… but not three months before. Confused a bit yet? We’ll sort it all out for you; just take a deep breath and get ready for the long week ahead by reading the latest edition of Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans.

Voices from the Heartland: Racing at Its Best in the Gateway to the West

It had been four years since I last visited the great city of St. Louis. At that time, I attended a (then) Busch Series race at Gateway International Raceway, which turned into a most memorable time! After all the events that transpired then, I never imagined that another trip to St. Louis could ever top it.

Mirror Driving: Busch the Bad Boy vs. Earnhardt the Popular, Penalties & Judging JTG

At the midpoint of the season, this year’s championship picture is taking shape, and the two strongest candidates right now are looking like Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. But who makes a better potential champion for NASCAR in the big picture — the brash, outspoken multiple-race winner Busch, or the mild-mannered Earnhardt, a picture of consistency with fewer wins but more fans?

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

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