NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Bubble Breakdown: 2-Tire Pit Stop Has Sam Hornish Jr. Driving Away From Top 35

News from the bubble this week primarily dealt with Robby Gordon’s rear end and whether NASCAR’s method of handing out penalties is fair or not. Gordon was docked 50 owner and driver points and crew chief Kirk Almquist was fined $50,000 this week after post-race inspection at Lowe’s found their rear axle housing exceeded the maximum specified toe of plus or minus one degree. Neither the driver nor crew chief was suspended as a result of the inspection, however, while in the previous week, driver Carl Long was given a 12-race suspension, got docked 200 owner/driver points, and his crew chief was fined $200,000 for an engine at a non-points race that exceeded NASCAR’s 358-cubic inch requirement by just .17 inches. Seems to me one guy got off a little easy while another one got bent right over the woodpile…. To see if Robby could make up the penalty at Dover or if the drivers outside the Top 35 would make up some ground on him, read on in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

Bubble Breakdown: Rain Plays Into the Hands of Robby Gordon While Scott Riggs Rains on Baldwin’s Parade

Well the 24 Hours of Charlotte finally came to an end late Monday afternoon and the 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600 was dominated by Kyle Busch and the weather. The race never went green on Sunday and suffered rain delays again on Monday before finally being called and producing a surprise winner. So to see which bubble teams gambled on the weather and won, and which wound up all wet, read this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

Bubble Breakdown: Jeremy Mayfield Dealt Death Blow While Non-Top 35 Teams Struggle

Just like Jeremy Mayfield’s test results, the Lady In Black wasn’t kind to everyone to tried to conquer her this weekend. While there were some great days for teams on the right side of the bubble, many of the cars outside it saw their bubble burst with wrecks or poor qualifying runs that hampered overall performance. As a result, while no one new moved into the Top 35 this week, some teams had a chance to put distance between themselves and the rest of the pack. To see which ones had the most success – and who’s still in danger – read on to see this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

Bubble Breakdown: Hornish’s 2 Top 10s Make Qualifying on Speed a Distant Memory

What a strange weekend for our beloved bubble dwellers it was at Richmond. At Friday’s qualifying session, Mike Bliss put the No. 09 Dodge in the sixth starting position with what seemed to be a car running with the momentum from last week’s upset win at Talladega. Scott Speed also looked like his team was harnessing their momentum from the previous weekend with an eighth-place qualifying run. In contrast, Robby Gordon, looked to be struggling with a 36th-place qualifying effort, while Sam Hornish Jr. looked to be back to normal with a lackluster 28th-place starting spot. But as you know, strange things happen under the lights at Richmond… so to see if our bubble teams flipped their weekends around, read on in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

Bubble Breakdown: Part-Timer Wins at Talladega While Top-30 Teams Turn in Top 15s

With both restrictor-plate wrecks and engines evening the playing field, six cars outside the top 30 in the owner standings wound up in the top 15 at the finish. Were Sam Hornish Jr. and Robby Gordon among the lucky group that broke through? You’ll just have to read on to find out in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

Bubble Breakdown: Sam Hornish Jr. Rips Off 1st Top 10 of 2009, Solidifies Locked-In Spot

Bad news has hit one of our bubble teams since the last race at Texas. After several patchwork sponsorship deals to keep the team afloat through March, the No. 8 Chevrolet driven by Aric Almirola has been shut down due to a lack of funding. Earnhardt Ganassi Racing plans to bring everyone back once sponsorship is found, but with the car sitting outside the Top 35, sponsors aren’t really lining up to throw money at them. Despite that disappointment, there was also plenty of good news coming out of Phoenix, too. Several teams sitting outside the Top 35 posted top-10 qualifying performances, while another one fighting to stay inside it actually managed to finish there. Read on to see who’s moving up and who’s moving in the opposite direction in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

Bubble Breakdown: Paul Menard Showing Signs of Life While Joey Logano Remains Lifeless

Optimism ran rampant amongst several bubble drivers this weekend as Paul Menard, Sam Hornish Jr., and Joey Logano all posted top-12 qualifying runs. But qualifying pays no points and Texas is a big, fast, nasty track that some of the best drivers have yet to master. So, as the race began questions loomed for those with solid starts – would Logano finally break through with a great finish? Would Menard continue his success at Texas? Would Hornish run a race and not hit anything? For the answers to these questions as well as who’s in and who’s out of the Top 35, read on for this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

Bubble Breakdown: Toyota Bubble Teams Struggle Mightily at Martinsville While Menard Sneaks In

The last remnants of the 2008 season have finally been cast by the wayside, as NASCAR now uses this year’s owner points in determining who has a guaranteed starting spot and who has to qualify on time. But as the drivers now outside of the Top 35 readied themselves to give it all they had at Martinsville in order to qualify for the race on Friday – it rained. So, the field was set according to the owner standings, sending the last four cars back to their shops while the top 43 lined up Sunday afternoon. Of the ones that remained, which drivers were able to race their way up into the Top 35 for the first time under the 2009 points standings? Read on in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown to see who moved up and who dropped out.

Bubble Breakdown: David Gilliland Drives TRG’s No. 71 Right Into Top 35

If you remember back to 2008, Jamie McMurray – a good driver on one of the super teams, Roush Fenway Racing – was not only sitting on the bubble heading to Bristol, but on the wrong side of it when he left there. It was proof even the best organizations could fall victim to having to qualify on speed. One year later, Ryan Newman and Mark Martin felt that same pressure, needing strong performances from their top-tier organizations to avoid what happened to McMurray last year. So, did Martin and Newman avoid being the big-name drivers on the outside looking in? And what underdog defied the odds to sneak into the Top 35? Read on to find out as we break down the bubble for the Food City 500 from Bristol Motor Speedway.

The Yellow Stripe: Who’s #1? Listing the 10 Best NASCAR Tracks in the Cup Series Today

Thinking about some great racing to come, I sent a quick email to Frontstretch staff last week, asking those who had both the time and inclination to name their five favorite tracks on the circuit. The idea was to use their responses as a straw poll of sorts, proof for a future article on what tracks to watch out for next. But what I didn’t expect was the response and genuine excitement I’d get from almost every writer on the site. And so rather than write what, if I’m honest, might well have been a vague, generic column on good tracks for racing, I’ve decided to write up the results of my impromptu survey instead – Frontstretch’s view of the best tracks out there on the Sprint Cup schedule today. Admittedly, this is an extremely unscientific approach, and I’m sure with a rigorous methodology attached and a couple dozen focus groups, the results might look a little different. But that’s the beauty of sport – it’s all about opinions, isn’t it?

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