NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Which Jeff Gordon Will We Remember?

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In the waning laps of the Kobalt Tools 400, FOX’s Mike Joy mentioned how Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson were the modern day version of Richard Petty and David Pearson when it comes to 1-2 finishes.

Though Stewart and Johnson’s combined total, thirteen, is much less than the 63 times Pearson and Petty occupied the top two spots, it made me realize we were in a for a treat in the final laps. After all, they have won the last seven championships and have more wins than any other driver since Johnson’s arrival to the Sprint Cup scene ten years ago. That’s right; for the last ten years, no one has been better than these two in terms of wins, championships, and thrilling performances. They are the modern day version of Petty and Pearson in more ways than just 1-2 finishes – they are the best out there.

So where does that leave the “other guy,” the man that once dominated this sport who many believe will go down as one the top-5 greatest drivers of all time when he decides to hang up his helmet for good?

It Takes Two… Races, Concerned Champs, And NASCAR Teammates On The Rise

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The beginning of NASCAR season is usually the best time of year for most fans and drivers. The biggest race of the year, the Daytona 500, kicks things off and everyone is on a clean slate, erasing any bad memories from the previous year. However, it doesn’t take many weeks for some to endure hardships early on while others experience highs that they didn’t get enjoy the previous year. With that said, even though we are only two weeks in, there are already several drivers who should be optimistic about the weeks ahead while others need to be concerned.

Darian 1, Stewart 0: Can The New Crew Chief Jumpstart Denny’s Season?

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Daytona has finally come and gone, and it was a wild event to say the least. So wild, in fact, that Matt Kenseth’s victory was really an afterthought, compared to both the events that went on during all the delays and the race itself. With that said, if Kenseth isn’t generating much buzz for winning, how is any other driver besides Dale Earnhardt, Jr. or Danica Patrick going to get attention for how their season started?

Being that it is the Daytona 500, second through last place matter much less than any other race. No one is going to remember who finished second, let alone 20th in an event that’s different from any other on the circuit. So a fourth-place finish for many faded into the background as we head to Phoenix this week; however, you should at least take note of Denny Hamlin’s run Monday night.

The Intimidating Truth: Stewart Developing Earnhardt-Style Curse At Daytona

When Dale Earnhardt won the 1998 Daytona 500, it was more than just another victory; it was one of the biggest races in the history of NASCAR. After 20 years of coming oh, so close, the Intimidator finally added that prestigious 500 win to cap off his Hall of Fame resume. Longtime fans can recall how many times he experienced heartbreak, holding the lead in the sport’s Super Bowl only to lose it in tough luck fashion during the closing laps. What made it even more frustrating was how well Earnhardt did in any other event held at Daytona, capturing every trophy from the Gatorade Duels to the now-defunct International Race of Champions. So when he finally did win the Great American Race, fourteen years ago, it went on to become one of the most memorable moments in NASCAR’s 60-plus years of existence.

Going Green: Three Surprises That We Should Have Expected

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There is still one week left in the season, but after 35 races, it’s not too early to look back on some of the noteworthy stories from the year. As is always the case, there are surprise occurrences, and 2011 was no exception. However, there are three items that will get labeled as a “surprise” when in reality we should have seen it coming. So let’s get right into it: the top three surprises of 2011 that really weren’t.

Brad Keselowski’s strong summer leads to his first Chase appearance

I remember prior to the start of last season, Keselowski was one of my picks to make the Chase in his first full year. Obviously, I couldn’t have been more wrong as he had more DNF’s (5) than top-10 finishes (2) and a disappointing 25th place in the final point standings.

Going Green: JGR’s “Bad Boy” Revolution… From Jarrett, To Labonte… To Busch?

It’s been a newsworthy week in the sport’s world of those named Joe. Long time Penn State coach Joe Paterno is out after this season amidst a sex scandal, legendary boxer Joe Frazier passed away this Monday at the age of 67, and in our sport, it has been Joe Gibbs in the headlines. Kyle Busch’s actions last Friday night became the latest issue for the car owner, one that may possibly be the most damaging to the organization. While Busch committed his act with his own team in the truck race, there have been cries from many for the owner to suspend, and even fire, the talented yet erratic 26 year old. Gibbs is well prepared to handle this situation correctly, as he has more experience than any car owner dealing with high strung individuals. What is most interesting about his near 20 years in NASCAR though, is how the perception of his team has changed in that span.

Going Green: The Sorrow From Being On Mayfield’s Side

Jeremy Mayfield is innocent. This ideal was what many people believed, myself included, once NASCAR suspended him over two years ago after testing positive for methamphetamines. I bought into his argument that an interaction between Claritin and the ADD prescription medication Adderall caused the test to result in failure. Not only that, but he doesn’t have the look of someone who uses hard drugs. You certainly wouldn’t expect his face to show up in the anti-drug programs run in elementary schools.

Going Green: Kahne’s Late-Season Surge a Sign of Things to Come At Hendrick

Talladega has come and gone with the typical controversy that lingers afterword. Much of the talk this week has been about team orders, the negative impact of riding around in the back, Jimmie Johnson’s chance at six straight titles going south, and Carl Edwards looking to secure his first ever Sprint Cup. Lost in all of this madness has been the recent surge from non-Chase contender Kasey Kahne. The soon to be Hendrick driver endured a rough summer that eliminated any chances of him qualifying for the postseason, but the last month has been one of the best of his career. With just four more races until the 2011 season concludes, Kahne appears to be making a statement for next year.

Going Green: One Big Pack Or Not, Restrictor Plate Racing Is The Best Option

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Chaos, carnage, luck, crapshoot, unpredictable. These are just a few of many words that come to mind in the days leading up to Talladega. The word association has been going on for over 20 years now after NASCAR implemented the use of the restrictor plate, a metal sheet placed over the carburetor to restrict airflow to the engine. The purpose was to reduce speeds, as cars were starting to eclipse the 200 mph barrier. While it has kept the speeds down at a slower pace, fans have become accustomed to seeing one big pack of cars running together, which has created other issues.

Going Green: Four Races In, The Muscle-Flexing Begins

When it comes to the Chase, I like to think my opinion on the subject is unique. I like the idea where twelve drivers all have a shot at the championship with ten races to go. While many see it as a “points reset” after Richmond, allowing the eleven contenders a free pass to get even with the point leader, I like to think of it as the start of another season, which in a way it is. It is NASCAR’s version of the postseason, and for the first few weeks of the playoffs, it is one of the most exciting times of the year.

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