NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Holding A Pretty Wheel: That Time NASCAR’s Points System Showed the Playoffs for What They Are

Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson battle in the closing laps of the 2021 Southern 500. (Photo: NKP)

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Way back in 2004, NASCAR devised a playoff system with hopes of one thing: attracting a demographic whose attention span, raised on information meted out in colorful bursts, was decidedly shorter than that of the long-term, traditional fans. The sport was riding a high as the water-cooler fad of the moment and wanted the wave …

Read more

Holding A Pretty Wheel: NASCAR’s Storybook Scenario Wouldn’t Be a Happy Ending

2021 Loudon Cup Aric Almirola victory lane NKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Saturday night’s (Sept. 18) race at Bristol Motor Speedway marks the final race in the first round of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, and four drivers will be ending their title bids when the checkers fall. Barring a true Hail Mary win, one of those drivers will be Michael McDowell, perhaps the underdog story …

Read more

Holding a Pretty Wheel: A NASCAR Summer of Endless Possibility

Ryan Preece racet at Hew Hampshire Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Cup Series July 2021. Photo: NKP

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

After more than a decade of sultry and seductive Southern summers, it was easy to forget how the season manifests in New England, with blazing days and gentle nights, but it was also easy to forget how fleeting they are. Already the trees are beginning to lose their summer green. But as this summer begins …

Read more

Holding a Pretty Wheel: Perception, Reality & NASCAR’s Million-Dollar Problem

2021 Daytona I Cup Aric Almirola car NKP

#10: Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Smithfield

There was once a young driver with a reputation for winning. He built a name for himself at the local bullrings, racing — and sometimes winning — against drivers twice his age and who had been racing before he was born. He scraped together what sponsorship he could, and put more than he could probably …

Read more

Holding a Pretty Wheel: Goodbye to Hollywood, NASCAR

2021 Cup Charlotte Pack Racing - Erik Jones, No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet (Credit: NKP)

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Do you remember when everything NASCAR touched turned to gold? Those halcyon summers when the sport was booming? Everything was right in its world and it was magic. But nothing stays the same. Summer romances fade in the winter cold, and so too has our love affair with NASCAR. It’s easy to say it’s only …

Read more

Holding a Pretty Wheel: Too Early to Engrave the NASCAR Cup Series Trophy

#19: Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Bass Pro celebrates his win with grandfather clock

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Martin Truex Jr. certainly put on a show at Darlington last Sunday, leading 248 of 292 laps on the way to his 30th career victory and third of 2021. He’s the only driver with more than one win through 12 races this season. So, with the halfway point of NASCAR’s regular season this weekend at …

Read more

Holding a Pretty Wheel: Can NASCAR’s Return to Dirt Resurrect a Ghost From Its Past?

Virtual NASCAR cars race at North Wilkesboro Speedway in 2020. Photo: NASCAR Media

(Photo: NASCAR Media)

NASCAR is a sport where ghosts abound. It’s more difficult with every passing year to find a racetrack that’s not, in some way, haunted by the past. Races won and lost, drivers come and gone, the past is everywhere, all the time. You can feel it on the wind in Martinsville, Darlington, Charlotte, Daytona: whispers …

Read more

Holding a Pretty Wheel: Is It Time for NASCAR to Change Tires?

Goodyear Tires ready for NASCAR action. Photo: NKP

(Photo: Russell LaBounty/NKP)

A lot has changed in NASCAR over the past couple of decades. Next year will mark the fourth incarnation of a Cup car since 2000, and today’s schedule is a far cry from the slate of races in the 1990s. Just two of today’s regular Cup drivers raced against Dale Earnhardt in the top series. …

Read more

Holding a Pretty Wheel: Are NASCAR’s Cookie Cutters Beginning to Crumble?

2017 Texas II CUP green flag Jonathan Ferrey getty images for texas motor speedway

(Photo: Jonahtan Ferrey/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

NASCAR will hit the track at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend, marking the final 1.5-mile race of the season. The final two races will be contested on the short track at Martinsville and the 1-mile Phoenix Raceway. Based on what we saw last week, that’s probably a good thing. There’s some hope on the horizon: …

Read more

Holding a Pretty Wheel: When NASCAR’s Instant Gratification Isn’t So Gratifying After All


(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Early in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season, it was already clear that there could be a lot of changes on the horizon. With Jimmie Johnson announcing his retirement, the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 would have an open seat, and several other drivers’ contracts were up at the end of the season as well. Kyle …

Read more

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

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