NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Newman’s Win Shows Stewart’s Growth as a Driver/Owner

It’s not that often you see Tony Stewart happy to finish second. Of course, when the car that beats him is the one he owns, it makes sense. The first ever one-two finish for Stewart Haas Racing capped of a perfect week for the organization, just two days after sweeping the front row for the first time in the team’s short history. It couldn’t have come at a better week either as both Stewart and his driver Ryan Newman are fighting hard to make the Chase. For Newman, the win likely secured him a spot in the Chase as one victory seems like it will be good enough for a wildcard. Stewart, on the other hand, is a different story.

Nationwide Tracks NASCAR Should Have Awarded A Cup Date Over Kentucky

When it was announced that the inaugural race at Kentucky Speedway was sold out, it was obviously a very encouraging sign. Despite the fact that yet another cookie cutter was added to the Sprint Cup schedule, strong attendance is the most important thing, and Kentucky’s long awaited date appeared to be well deserved. That is, until the day of the race. Unless the only NASCAR related articles are mine, then you know by now the opening event at Kentucky was a complete failure.

It’s not the first time a facility has had problems with traffic; however, everyone involved in preparing for this race had plenty of time to get ready and deliver a warm welcome to the hard working NASCAR fans. The fact that some of these fans, some of whom traveled hundreds of miles and many hours to attend, got turned away due to lack of parking makes me sick (at the same time I now feel so much better for not making the seven hour drive to go).

Ragan’s First Win Presents Problems With NASCAR’s New Chase Format

Last Saturday was a huge night for David Ragan. After going 0-162 in his previous races, he finally scored his first career points paying victory in Sprint Cup competition. His triumph was more than just getting to the winner’s circle, however; it was about returning to Daytona to avenge his loss in this year’s 500, when NASCAR penalized him for changing lanes before the restart as the leader. By winning, his job security increased to the point that maybe, just maybe, he will return to Roush Fenway Racing for another year. Not to mention his win has him currently sitting in the 12th and final spot for the Chase as the second wild card driver.

Really? David Ragan in the Chase? Well, there are still a few races left for things to change, but this was my major concern with NASCAR’s new rule. A driver picking up one win while having a mediocre year does not deserve to be in the Chase.

Daytona: A Life Changing Experience

Instead of doing my usual routine of talking about a certain driver or off-track drama, I wanted to take a different approach this week. I would like to share a personal story from last year’s Fourth of July – my experience going to the Daytona International Speedway for the first time. It is a recollection of my day spent out there, but it is meant to be about Daytona and the impact it has had on one man.

One year ago this week, I fell in love. At the age of 23 years old, I had been going to every Talladega race for the past decade, along with a few other tracks sprinkled in. However, I had yet to make a trip to the track that put NASCAR on the map, the legendary Daytona International Speedway. It’s a good nine hour drive from where I live, and issues like time and money had always prevented me from making the trip.

Some Silly Season Predictions

_The big news this week has been about Red Bull and how they are looking to depart the Sprint Cup Series at season’s end. In addition, point leader Carl Edwards has yet to sign a contract extension at Roush Fenway Racing, which started rumors last week that he was looking to join Joe Gibbs Racing in 2012. Ah yes, silly season has begun. I am no insider, nor do I have my “sources,” but it sure is fun speculating on how situations like the aforementioned will turn out. With that said, here is a look at some of the drivers that could be affected by these recent rumors._

*Carl Edwards*

Honestly, it’s hard to imagine Edwards leaving RFR for another organization. He appears to have maintained a great relationship with Jack Roush and Ford during his eight year tenure with the team. It would be even more puzzling to see Edwards, who is clearly the number one driver at RFR, bolt for JGR and line up with that team’s two erratic, yet talented drivers in Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch.

Duel Races in NASCAR? No Thanks

You have to give credit to the IndyCar Series and the staff at Texas Motor Speedway for trying something different. The 1.5 mile speedway has hosted some of the most memorable Indy races in all of motorsports, with photo finishes occurring on a regular basis. However, the last few events run there have been somewhat of a letdown, with the leader running away in the final laps. It was time to do something different, and having two shorter races with two race winners was the chance for TMS to once again host amazing finishes. Under this methodology, teams would have double the chance of going to victory lane, there would be a greater sense of urgency to make it to the front, and of course, fan favorite Danica Patrick would have twice the odds of winning. The open wheel series has also been getting beat by NASCAR for years in attendance and television ratings, so two short races would cater to what has suddenly become an ADD nation, where instant gratification is a must. Thanks Twitter.

Kyle’s Next Feud? One Other Rivalry We Need To See

There is no doubt that the biggest news of the week has been about the Richard Childress – Kyle Busch scuffle after the Camping World Truck series event last Saturday. Even my local radio sports station, which talks nothing but college football 24-7, even during the summer, took a few minutes to analyze the situation. Point is, whether you side with Childress, Busch, or neither, this altercation has generated some good publicity for the sport. Yes, I would love nothing more than for the talk to be about how great the racing is and not what happens off of the track, but I’m also the kind of guy that enjoys hearing about the post race soap operas. Who doesn’t? Unfortunately, Childress is a car owner so we know this drama won’t continue on the track. That, and the stupid probations… but I digress. Anyway, this isn’t the first feud of the season, but when was there actually a good feud that carried over for months? You could say Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski, but they aren’t necessarily what you would call two of the best drivers out there (though Edwards seems to be well on his way), nor are they the most recognizable names in the sport. NASCAR could use a feud that not only carries on for a while, but contains two of the best or most marketable drivers. Here are two rivalries that, if they were to happen, would help with television ratings and would even fill up some of those empty seats we have been seeing lately.

What’s Up With All the Pit Strategy? Decide Whether You Like It Because It’s Not Going Anywhere

Despite having won two races already, Kevin Harvick stunned everyone by picking up victory number three for his first career win in the Coke 600. How he won it shouldn’t be that shocking; after all, in every one of his triumphs this season he did not make the final pass for the lead until five laps or less to go. What is surprising, however, is another recent trend; that of pit strategy playing a more important part than ever.

All Star Race in 2012 Should Have These Rules

I will be the first one to say I don’t expect every race to have a last lap pass or a three-wide photo finish. Sometimes the fastest car wins and runs away with it, just as Carl Edwards did last Saturday. It happens; it’s a part of racing and there is no reason to be upset with it. That is, unless it happens to be the All-Star Challenge, as they now call it, where the only thing that matters is taking the checkered flag. It is the one race of the season where it is okay to throw debris cautions to bunch the field back up in hopes of producing a crazy dash to the finish.

Unfortunately, the end result can sometimes be tame, even if every driver is giving it their all. Seeing how changes seem to be made every year to this event, I figured my two cents on what can be changed to make every All Star race the absolute best would be worth a shot. (Fair warning – some of this stuff has been tried, but it worked well and would be welcomed back.)

Racing At Its Most “Ideal”

Opinions are rampant in NASCAR, with everyone holding their own unique point of view on various topics within the sport. More often than not, there are those who consider their opinion to be the_correct_ point of view and everyone else is _just wrong, DAMMIT!_ Friendships have been lost over seemingly trivial disagreements (try telling that Earnhardt fan buddy of yours that Earnhardt sucks and see if he ever invites you over for poker again), and some arguments will never be resolved simply because there is no right or wrong answer—that’s why it’s an *OPINION*!

While opinionated individuals can rant and rave about a variety of topics—from that dastardly Brian France to the horror of the (gasp!) Chase—there is one topic in particular that will forever be a staple of the sport simply because it is the very reason people tune into NASCAR races in the first place. That is, the quality of the race.

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