Race Weekend Central

Did You Notice? … Finch’s Fickle Behavior, Speed Terrors And “Chasing” Your Dream

*Did You Notice?…* The timing of Kurt Busch’s Jerry Springer Show “leak” as it pertains to the “decision” to keep his marriage with James Finch together? The second I saw that mockup sponsorship plastered all over the internet, my Intrader Odds for Kurt Busch keeping a ride – at least for now – went from 10 percent to 99.99999. Only the words “lightning strike at Busch’s home,” “Maricopa County arrest” or “President Obama issues Busch ban on motorsports” would have changed my way of thinking.

Why? The key components to that story are that Springer’s “request” for a mockup came at Darlington Raceway in May.

Did You Notice? … Who Crashes And Burns, A NASCAR Bridesmaid In Crisis And A+ Attendance… How?

*Did You Notice?…* The problems for Kurt Busch aren’t just happening off the track? No need to go any further on his probation-turned-suspension; you’ve already read 50 articles about it at this point (or hit your brain’s all-too-convenient “ignore” button, reserved for overkill scenarios like these or your least favorite relative). Instead, what I want to bring up is that, during a season where Kurt Busch is trying to keep his career intact, building a foundation with an underdog team, he’s instead developed a habit of bringing his car home in pieces.

Did You Notice? … Ford On Ford, Foreign Imports And Gordon’s NASCAR Hope

_Catch Tom Saturday on SIRIUS XM Channel 90! He’ll be co-hosting Press Pass with Jim Noble from 11 AM – 2 PM._

*Did You Notice?…* What a difference Mike Ford makes? He’s only been at Richard Petty Motorsports for less than a month, handed the unenviable task of revamping a two-car organization that had earned exactly one top-10 finish, combined through the season’s first nine races. His driver, Aric Almirola, appeared to lack both the confidence and experience to be successful on the Cup level. Even the Petty name was in the news for all the wrong reasons; a confusing battle over the future of Victory Junction Gang Camp gave the impression of a family feud (rightly or wrongly) between King Richard, son Kyle, grandson Austin and daughter-in-law Patti.

Did You Notice? … NASCAR’s Fake Slump, Sleeping Beauties And All-Star Fixes

*Did You Notice?…* Hendrick Motorsports isn’t running as bad as everybody says? Yes, Jeff Gordon is running like somewhere, someone is sticking pins in a voodoo doll wearing a tiny AARP firesuit. Yes, for the first month Kasey Kahne thought the best way to fit in as the “new guy” was run into walls. And of course, any Jimmie Johnson slump of more than ten races is labeled “instant crisis” by the “casual media” whose NASCAR knowledge extends to little more than the No. 48, Petty, and a guy they once called the Intimidator.

Did You Notice? … Ford Fighting Ford?, Earnhardt Illusion And NASCAR’s Spark

*Did You Notice?…* During a resurgent year for Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports as a whole has fallen behind the curve? That ugly fact is what’s spurring this move to bring on a top-quality crew chief, Mike Ford, more than anything else. Aric Almirola, in nine races, did not have a large quantity of time to work with Greg Erwin in order to show whether or not the pair could be a success; after all, the driver has just 44 career Cup starts to his credit.

But across the way, RPM’s marquee name, Marcos Ambrose, has been struggling just as much as Almirola. Combined, they’re outside the top 20 in points driving for an organization that surged to 15th last season with AJ Allmendinger, seemingly on the verge of making the Chase. That momentum should have been boosted, despite Allmendinger’s departure, by a Ford operation that’s come out of the box swinging in 2012. Consider…

Did You Notice? … Parity’s Pluses And Minuses, Rough “Starts” And Puzzling Pettys

*Did You Notice?…* Parity in the Cup Series only goes so far… and can hurt the sport as well as help it? This season, we’ve seen wins by four different organizations in eight races, with all four manufacturers represented. The sport’s “New York Yankees,” Hendrick Motorsports, is stuck at zero (and the well-documented 199 career trips to the Winner’s Circle) while the victories have come from Roush Fenway Racing (two), Penske Racing (one), Stewart-Haas Racing (three), and Joe Gibbs Racing (two). Overall, if the season ended now, seven different car owners would be represented in the Chase. That sounds pretty decent… right?

Did You Notice?… The Mark Martin Effect, A Quiet Ending And The Danger of NASCAR Hype

*Did You Notice?…* The difference Mark Martin makes with a new team? Yes, Michael Waltrip Racing went through an extensive personnel overhaul and expansion this offseason. But perhaps the best asset they’ve had, in this age of engineering parity is a driver who brings experience, enthusiasm, and that all-important confidence to the table.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the last two times Mark Martin made a move and his first year with a different organization.

Did You Notice? … No News Is Bad News, NASCAR’s Hall Future And Quick Hits

*Did You Notice?* … No news is bad news? That’s the theme in NASCAR Nation this week, where some of the quietest off time we’ve ever seen has kept the sport out of the national consciousness. Baseball, with Opening Day festivities and beyond has gripped the headlines, along with the start of the NHL Playoffs and the upcoming push for the NBA’s. Football, too, despite being in its offseason continues to make the rounds atop _SportsCenter_ and keep fans focused on anything but cars going in circles.

Did You Notice? … NASCAR’s Chronic Underachiever, No Laps Up Front & Quick Hits

*Did You Notice?…* Ryan Newman’s wacky pattern of “upset” victories? In the last seven years, he has won only four times, with three of those the result of passes caused by circumstance, by luck tilting his way within the last five laps of a race. Consider…

*Daytona, February 2008.* Heading into the final restart, with three laps left Newman was fourth and a clear underdog with Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch up ahead. Those two had combined to lead 102 of 200 laps, but a move as the cars came up to speed “left them separated.”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcbNUA7x8P8 As Busch went low, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. went with him which allowed the teammates of Newman and Kurt Busch, not the JGR duo, to pair up.

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