NASCAR Race Weekend Central

5 Points to Ponder: 2009 Food City 500 at Bristol Edition

If you’re not a Busch, you haven’t been in a Sprint Cup victory lane in over a month. Kyle Busch made it three wins in a row for the Vegas brothers, leading 378 of 503 laps at Bristol this weekend en route to his second win of the season. The last three Sprint Cup races have been won by either Kyle Busch or his older brother Kurt Busch, whose win two weeks ago in Atlanta followed Kyle’s at Las Vegas. Lil’ Busch is having a similar season to that of his 2008 campaign, but it’s been Kurt Busch who’s been the surprise, finishing 11th this weekend despite starting 32nd and suffering an early run-in with Kevin Harvick.

5 Points to Ponder: 2009 Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Edition

I’m not sure if Mark Martin haters even exist, but if they did, not even they would have thought Martin would sit 34th in driver points after four races. The popular pick for the 2009 championship is now in danger of falling out of the Top 35 in owner points after Sunday’s tire failure… but don’t expect that worst-case scenario to happen.

10 Points to Ponder: 2009 Auto Club 500 at Fontana Edition

Several fans had a bitter taste in their mouth about the ending of the Daytona 500 last week – and rightfully so. When you have a driver who hasn’t won a race in over a year and he suddenly wins the sport’s most prestigious race after taking the lead one lap before it rains, fans have a right to hesitate when giving credit to the winner. But what most people don’t realize is that Matt Kenseth put himself in position for that Daytona victory whether it rained or not; and this week, he proved the win was no fluke. The Wisconsin native is the first driver to win the first two races of the season since Jeff Gordon over 10 years ago; and don’t look now, but Kenseth has two wins and averaged a ninth-place finish in nine races at Las Vegas, as well.

7 Points to Ponder: 2009 Daytona 500 Edition

While there was plenty of talk this month about Mark Martin’s winless streak in the Daytona 500, the guy he used to drive for had quite a winless streak of his own. Jack Roush has competed in the Daytona 500 every year since 1988, and has had a multi-car operation since 1992 without ever winning the Great American Race. Ironically, after waiting 21 years, the crew chief that got Roush and Kenseth to Victory Lane, Drew Blickensderfer, was calling his first Cup race atop the pit box.

AJ Allmendinger Opens 2009 With Career-Best Run

With the weight off his shoulders just by making the Daytona 500, AJ Allmendinger came out and ran the race of his life in the 51st running of the prestigious event. The young Richard Petty Motorsports driver who is set to run only the first eight races of the season, pending sponsorship, ran in the top 12 for the entire second half of the race, leaving Daytona with a career best finish of third. Sitting at the podium in the media center following the race, Allmendinger could have easily blasted the teams that have given up on him in the past; but the former open-wheel driver did just the opposite.

Beyond the Cockpit: Colin Braun on Truck Racing, Year 2

In his rookie season last year in the Camping World truck series, Colin Braun amassed eight top 10s in 25 starts and finished 13th in points, claiming Rookie of the Year honors. His 2009 campaign got off to a good start, grabbing the pole for the season opening NextEra Energy Resources 250 and finishing ninth. Frontstretch caught up with the 20-year-old driver prior to his impressive Daytona run at the NASCAR Media Day to discuss is confidence level heading into 2009 and whether or not he would consider going back to sports car racing.

Going it Alone: Jeremy Mayfield, Joe Nemechek Relish Role as Owner/Drivers

For most of the 17 teams vying for the final four spots up for grabs in the 51st annual Daytona 500, today’s 150-mile Duel qualifying races will not only determine whether or not they’re in for Sunday, but whether or not their team will travel to California, Las Vegas, and beyond. The pressure is immense for these small-time operations, as a season’s worth of success or failure could depend on only 60 laps. For former Sprint Cup winners Jeremy Mayfield and Joe Nemechek, though, it’s a totally different story. Sure, making the Daytona 500 and its approximately $250,000 payout would certainly be a springboard to a potentially successful 2009. But missing it wouldn’t necessarily be the end of the world – leaving them far more relaxed than others on their end of the garage.

Closing NASCAR’s 7th Decade: The Top-12 Drivers – Including the Champ Who’ll Lead Us Into 2010

With 2009 offering one last chance to shape the story of the decade, more outlandish stories beg to be written. Jimmie Johnson will be looking to set a record never thought possible, especially under the Chase playoff format – four consecutive Sprint Cup titles. To do it, he’ll need to fend off perhaps the strongest field of challengers he’s ever had, with Carl Edwards, Mark Martin and Kyle Busch the trendy picks to break his streak. In the background looms one of the better rookie battles of the decade in Joey Logano vs. Scott Speed: NASCAR’s handpicked future messiah against the quirkiest newcomer it’s had in years.

6 Points to Ponder: 2009 Speedweeks – Week 1 Edition

Drivers started complaining about the surface following Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout, saying that the current racecar is not built for this particular track and its surface. It would make sense to smooth the bumps, repave the track and let ‘em loose like at Talladega – but in a time in which NASCAR has so many cookie-cutter tracks, the rough surface at Daytona has made it unique. While it’s still mentioned in the same breath as Talladega based on sheer look, the similarities stop there, and handling has taken precedence over anything.

Beyond the Cockpit: Justin Allgaier Goes from Champion to Rookie

Justin Allgaier went into the last year’s ARCA Re/Max Series finale at Toledo third in series points, well behind points leader Scott Speed and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. In a strange series of events, Stenhouse got into the back of the series leader and forced him into the wall, only to have Speed get back on the track and return the favor. Allgaier steered clear of the wreckage and went on to win the event, his third win in a row, to claim the ARCA Re/Max championship by a mere 50 points over Frank Kimmel. 2009 sees Allgaier jump from ARCA to the NASCAR Nationwide Series where he will compete with the likes of Brendan Gaughan, Erik Darnell and Michael Annett for the Rookie of the Year title with Penske Racing. Frontstretch caught up with the young driver at NASCAR Media Day to discuss his ARCA Re/Max championship and his expectations for the upcoming season.

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