NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Talladega During The Chase: A Brief History

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For many, the Fall Talladega Sprint Cup race brings with it a definite sense that anything can happen. Due to the superspeedway’s ability to provide a more even playing field for teams, along with its susceptibility for “The Big One,” the days leading up to the race are often filled with impatient fans and teams that worry for their drivers’ and cars’ well-being. Or, there will be potential contenders, including those that have had a season filled with futility which talk up the possibility of a good showing — a cycle of talk that was all happening _before_ NASCAR threw its Chase postseason format into the equation.

Uncertain Times Await for Suddenly-Replaced Regan Smith

Hearing the news of Kurt Busch’s arrival at Furniture Row Racing next season might cause one to recall the path that the team has traveled to get to 2013 — from Jerry Robertson to a former Cup champ. But, aside from the fanfare of a superstar driver’s big announcement, it also elicits a worthwhile question: what happens to Regan Smith?

Smith, who’s been within the NASCAR ranks since 2002, came to Furniture Row, a Denver, Colo.-based, single-car organization, in 2009, when the team was running on a part-time basis after failing to qualify for multiple races from 2006-2008. After switching back to full-time status in 2010, Smith and the No. 78 team scored a popular victory in the 2011 Southern 500 at Darlington. Just this past off-season, Smith moved to Colorado to be closer to the rest of the organization, expecting his future to lie with the Denver-based race team.

A Regal Entrance: John King, Other Rookies Return at Kentucky

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Remember this past February? Yeah, it’s been a good while, but in the realm of NASCAR racing, it may not be too tough to recall. After all, that month saw all three top series visit Daytona, the Speedweeks kickoff which naturally produces the most memorable races of the entire season. The Nationwide and Truck races in particular saw first-time winners in James Buescher and John King, respectively.

And then King, a rookie then driving for Red Horse Racing, pretty much fell off the face of the earth when it came to NASCAR. Although able to secure funding for the first five races of the Camping World Truck Series season, King’s team scaled back tremendously, only resurfacing when Parker Kligerman took over the ride just last month. King was the first in a line of young drivers who lost their rides in the series, and is now the latest to emerge with a new team. At this weekend’s Kentucky 201 at Kentucky Speedway, the Tennessee native aligns with Wauters Motorsports, itself the former home of a much-maligned rookie, Paulie Harraka.

Reinstated Allmendinger Faces Uphill Battle

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As fast as the news came of AJ Allmendinger’s suspension for a failed drug test, it seems only fitting that the news that suspension is already lifted was equally as quick.

No, seriously. Not two months after the news broke in July, Allmendinger, the former driver of Penske Racing’s No. 22 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, is already “back,” or at least could be back, in theory. The news comes as a shock not in the sense that Allmendinger completed NASCAR’s Road to Recovery Program; I don’t think anyone who knew the driver on even the most basic of levels would peg him as a bad guy whose problems were only going to worsen.

Looking For This Weekend’s Best Race? It Might Not Be in Chicago

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Of course there will be the Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland, the first of 10 races in the Chase for the 2012 championship. Several storylines, from who will come out strongest out of the gate to how Kyle Busch will take missing the Chase, are sure to form over 400 miles Sunday afternoon.

And of course there will also be that race’s predecessor, a Chicagoland Nationwide Series event that will see Elliott Sadler and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. continue to battle for the season championship, with Cup regulars Paul Menard, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kurt Busch hoping to play spoiler along with young newcomer Alex Bowman.

Gunning for a Win: Lining Up the Remaining Chase Wild Card Hopefuls

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Despite 11 out of the 12 spots in the 2012 Sprint Cup Chase having already been solidified, this weekend’s regular season finale at Richmond International Raceway should prove to be one of the most gripping of the year.

That’s because of the lone remaining Chase spot. Though currently held rather handily by Kyle Busch, it’s by no means his to lose. In fact, losing will not be a part of the equation for Busch or four other drivers Saturday night.

The objective? Win.

The Best (and Worst) NASCAR Helmet Throws

So, it happened again.

No, I’m not talking particularly about the amount of accidents and subsequent cautions in last weekend’s Bristol night races for the Cup and Nationwide series, though I will say they certainly spiced up the action and definitely lead to what I’m going to talk about.

Just a few weeks after Todd Bodine’s helmet toss (and miss) at Nelson Piquet, Jr. to express his displeasure at their Pocono incident, Tony Stewart hurled his in Matt Kenseth’s general direction during the Bristol Cup race — with a direct hit squarely on Kenseth’s hood.

Justin Allgaier Post-Montreal: Deserving of a Cup Ride

Justin Allgaier has to be getting frustrated.

Last weekend’s Nationwide Series event at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve saw the 26-year-old driver gain his first win of the 2012 season. That makes three straight seasons that he’s won in the series.

Following the victory, Allgaier sits fifth in overall points, 68 markers behind championship leader Elliott Sadler. His position follows finishes of third, fourth and sixth in the three previous years’ final standings. Many drivers would kill to have that kind of results, so, where does the frustration come into play?

Soundtracking the Season: Seven New(er) NASCAR Anthems

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Growing up, I can recall a number of songs that first came to me via NASCAR. Whether it was from watching one of the race broadcasts (Metallica’s “Fuel”) or playing one of the sport’s licensed video games (“Flirtin’ With Disaster,” Molly Hatchet), there were many songs that I associated with NASCAR early on, even though most weren’t specifically NASCAR-themed (of course, there’s all that Creed that was played at Michigan International Speedway’s Skoal tent when I was younger, but that’s another story entirely).

But pause for a moment and try to think of any such songs that have surfaced in the last few years. Tough, isn’t it? I’m not saying that none of the more recent tunes are memorable, but that’s the case for the majority. I can think of “T.N.T.” by AC/DC, for instance, but that’s really more of a play on the TV station on which the given race was broadcast — and anyway, the video that accompanies it is kind of pointless. I think an argument could be made for Rascal Flatts’s cover of “Life is a Highway,” but that’s about it.

Making Sense of Kligerman / Brad Keselowski Racing Breakup

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Do you follow Parker Kligerman on Twitter? Well, if you’re one of over 15,000 that can say yes to that question, it’s a possibility you saw a cryptic post-Pocono tweet from the former ARCA standout.

“Great Recovery by whole Of BKR. I’ve enjoyed the last year and a half,” he tweeted Saturday. “Things you’ll see soon, r 4 the better 4 everyone! #excited4future”

Two days later, Kligerman was no longer the driver of the No. 29 Dodge RAM for Brad Keselowski Racing in the Camping World Truck Series. The change comes as Kligerman sits sixth in championship points through 11 races, with two top 5s and seven top-10 finishes. His lone finish below 11th? A 19th at Kentucky.

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