NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Up to Speed: The Parallel Careers of Jimmie Johnson & Matt Kenseth

2020 Bristol NCS Jimmie Johnson Racing NKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

With the 2020 season entering its final stage, NASCAR is beginning to look toward next year.  This last week in September brought considerable news regarding driver lineups for 2021.  There have also been rumors that major changes could be in store for the Cup Series schedule.  But even as more news trickles out about the …

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Up to Speed: Tough Decisions Ahead for Ford’s NASCAR Teams

2020 Bristol NCS Ford Nose NKP1

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

The more things change for Matt DiBenedetto, the more they stay the same.  Returning to Bristol Motor Speedway for the 2020 Bass Pro Shops/NRA Night Race, he was in need of an outstanding performance.  For the first time, DiBenedetto came to Thunder Valley as a NASCAR playoff driver.  But a pair of lackluster results in …

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Up to Speed: Is Austin Dillon’s Playoff Run for Real?

2020 Richmond NCS Austin Dillon Car Nigel Kinrade Photography1

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

For the first time in his NASCAR Cup Series career, Austin Dillon has scored back-to-back top-five finishes.  Last week at Darlington Raceway, Dillon pulled off a surprising second-place result.  He followed that performance up with an even stronger run at Richmond Raceway Saturday night (Sept. 12).  Although Dillon finished fourth, he led 55 laps and …

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Up to Speed: The Petty Family Versus the Lady in Black

2017DarlingtonMENCSRichardPettyCarNKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

The list of drivers who have dominated at Darlington Raceway reads like a NASCAR honor roll.  David Pearson holds the record for most wins in NASCAR’s top division there with 10 victories.  After Pearson’s run ended, Dale Earnhardt took over and nearly equaled the Silver Fox’s feat by claiming nine wins.  Other NASCAR Hall of …

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Up to Speed: Kyle Busch Will Miss Having Playoff Points in 2020

2020DaytonaNCSKyleBuschFaceNKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Kyle Busch experienced another frustrating finish to a promising race on Saturday night.  At Daytona International Speedway, in the last race of the regular season, Busch led for a total of 31 laps.  He was near the front of the pack late in the race and had a good shot at scoring a win.  But …

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Up to Speed: An Actual NASCAR Playoff Bubble Battle? Yes, Indeed

2020DoverNCSMattDiBenedettoCarNKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

The completion of this weekend’s doubleheader races at Dover International Speedway was an important milestone for NASCAR.  The Cup Series is now caught up with its original 2020 schedule.  All of the races with revised dates due to COVID-19 are finished, leaving one race remaining in the regular season before the ten-race NASCAR playoff begins. …

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Up to Speed: Three Major Mental Challenges Before NASCAR’s 2020 Playoffs

2013DoverNSCSMilestheMonsterNASCARMedia

(Photo: NASCAR Media)

NASCAR’s weekend of racing at Daytona International Speedway’s road course (Aug. 15-16) figured to include a lot of new experiences.  All three national touring divisions tackled their first races using the infield layout without any prior practice or qualifying.  For the men and women who raced around the new course at a familiar venue, there …

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Up to Speed: Matt Kenseth, Erik Jones & the Cost of Driver Development

2017MichiganNCSErikJonesCarNKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Back in the summer of 2017, change was afoot at Joe Gibbs Racing.  During Kentucky Speedway’s race weekend, Matt Kenseth publicly announced that he would not be returning to the No. 20 Toyota in 2018.  Several days later, JGR confirmed that Erik Jones would move over from Furniture Row Racing to replace him. The impending …

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Up to Speed: What is William Byron’s NASCAR Ceiling?

2020NewHampshireNCSWilliamByronCarNKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

William Byron is back in familiar territory.  One year ago, 20 races into the regular season, he was 12th in overall points and fighting to solidify a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.  Holding a 61-point advantage over the cutline leaving New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Byron continued his rebound from a rough start to …

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Up to Speed: Maurice Petty Brought Out the Best in Petty Enterprises

1970sMauricePettyEngineBuilderNASCARMedia

(Photo: ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)

NASCAR often likes to describe itself as a team sport and a family sport.  Both points are true.  It’s easy to get caught up in the romanticism of the solitary racing driver braving high speeds and high danger to capture the checkered flag.  But every great racer needs a quality team of experts who are …

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