NASCAR Race Weekend Central

10 Points to Ponder… After the 2008 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

1. Rumba, Anyone? – Two-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves — better known to the general public as last year’s winner of the mega hit TV show “Dancing With The Stars” — seems to be interested in following such open-wheel standouts as Juan Pablo Montoya, Sam Hornish Jr., Dario Franchitti, Patrick Carpentier, and AJ Allmendinger into the NASCAR ranks. However, the Brazilian initially refuted a Los Angeles Times story published last week that reported he was interested in talking to Penske Racing, whom he drives for in the IRL, about a move to their NASCAR operation. “I did not understand much,” Castroneves said of the journalist writing the story. “I found my English is apparently getting worse. [They] definitely took it out of context.”

Did You Notice? The CoT Doesn’t Equal Parity, Busch Can’t Contend For a Title… In Trucks, & More

Did You Notice? That the gap between the “Big Four” in Cup Racing and the rest of the pack is getting wider than ever before? We say this stuff all the time, but I did a little research in the “off week” to take a look at the stats for the 2008 Cup season to date. What I found intrigued me: the multi-car teams of Richard Childress Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, and Joe Gibbs Racing – teams that have combined for 15 of the last 16 Cup championships – continue to dominate the landscape in ways we’ve never seen, even with the Car of Tomorrow.

Fanning the Flames: Be Careful What You Wish For… Like it or Not, NASCAR Personality is Back

Q: Hi, Matt! Sorry about the lost wages on the Derby. I was in the same boat. My question centers around another great racing tradition: The Indianapolis 500. Scott Dixon wins $100,000 for sitting on the pole, which is mind blowing if you think about it. Daytona qualifying is like Indy in that it is a complicated process that seems to drag on. But I’ve never heard of a dollar amount attached to winning the Daytona 500 pole. Is there prize money to sit on the pole for NASCAR’s crown jewel?

Thompson in Turn 5: A Successful Female NASCAR Driver Would Be… Oprah-Like

I would love to have a financial stake in the first woman driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series that performs at the high level of skill that IRL driver Danica Patrick does. There is no secret that the nation’s top automobile racing series is sponsor driven, and a successful female driver would have a host of new companies, never before on the racing scene, clamoring for her endorsement of their products. I can see it now: multiple companies, all attempting to outbid one another to have their brand name adorning her firesuit and the hood of her car.

Fan’s View: Giving Danica Patrick Her Due… and Nothing More

Congratulations to Danica Patrick for winning her first IRL race! After three years, 50 starts and three podium finishes prior to Saturday’s Twin Ring Motegi 300, her arrival in Victory Lane has long been awaited. Altogether now: three cheers for Danica! There. Are we done patting the little lady on the back?

Bowles-Eye View: 2 Countries, 2 Races, 2 Divergent Outcomes on Diversity

It was a tale of two cities, two countries, and two completely different races. But those two checkered flags converged into one defining story, leaving fans both delighted and disappointed by the future of diversity in a sport that’s lacked it for far too long. The events were held outside the country, on opposite ends of the world; but considering the morals of the topic at hand, it’s ironic they were held so far apart.

Thompson in Turn 5: Open-Wheel Reunification a Lesson For NASCAR, Too!

One of the biggest U.S. motorsports stories of the last two decades occurred late last month, with the announcement that the Indy Racing League (IRL) and the Champ Car Word Series (CCWS) had agreed to merge. The news, however, garnered little more than a cursory nod from the stock car community which seems reluctant to even acknowledge that there is another form of racing in this country, let alone one that outshined NASCAR for many years back in the day. But if the newly invigorated IRL plays its cards right, auto racing enthusiasts will begin, en masse, to pay attention once again towards an open-wheel series based in the United States. Of course, the key for the IRL in rebuilding the series to prominence in large part will be to pattern themselves after their brethren in American auto racing, NASCAR.

10 Points to Ponder… After the 2007 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte

1. Lucky at Lowe’s – Jeff Gordon is a great racecar driver, but even the best sometimes need a bit of luck, as Gordon acknowledged in his post-race comments from Victory Lane: “I can’t tell you how many times we tried to give this one away. I was having trouble with the [fuel] pickup on the banking. Even on the last [restart], the tires spun so bad, Clint Bowyer could have gone right by me.” Gordon pulled out the win despite two cautions and a red flag in the last 16 laps of the race, a green-white-checkered finish, an almost-empty gas tank, and a group of talented hard chargers right behind him, including Kyle Busch, Bowyer, Ryan Newman, and Carl Edwards.

Mirror Driving: Could Dale Jr. Still Make The Chase, Will Open Wheelers Ever Dominate a Cup Race & Did AT&T Get Put In Its Place?

In the midst of Dale Earnhardt Jr. overkill, the 12-car Chase field was set in stone on Saturday night. Looking at the final list of contenders, are there any surprises you see on that list? Anyone you think doesn’t deserve to be running for the title, and if so, who would you replace him with?

Full Throttle: Open-Wheel Drivers Becoming the Choice Du Jour Of NASCAR Owners… at the Expense of Everyone Else

On a lazy Sunday afternoon at Chicagoland, one of the most dramatic championships in open wheel history had just reached an eye-popping conclusion, with the third turn of the last lap finally settling a battle that brought excitement to an all-time high. But the 2007 IRL trophy hadn’t even been dusted off for its rightful owner, Dario Franchitti, when he was asked the question most racing aficionados already had the answer to: Would he be moving to NASCAR? The Scotsman was noncommittal in his response, but just the hesitation in his voice revealed the answer he’s not yet able to say out loud: all indications are the open wheel racer is on his way to the world of stock cars. According to published reports, a five-year offer from Chip Ganassi Racing has been put on the table, and sponsorship is in place for Franchitti to make the jump from IndyCar to a series with just a little different type of chassis.

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