NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Fan’s View: Chasing Tires & Consequences: A Crewman’s Desperate Disaster

It was the worst possible scenario. By lap 67, all but six cars had pitted on a green-flag run, then the dreaded yellow flag dropped. Unless you were one of the lucky fans whose driver had held off, the pit of your stomach dropped out. No… no… NO! Almost the entire field was a lap down! We bit our lips. What? Why! Who caused it? Already we could taste blood, anxious to bestow a withering blow to race control for declaring some infinitesimal piece of debris the culprit for the untimely caution. But in the end, we were to be awarded not even that dubious piece of justice. The replay showed a tire rolling across pit road and onto the grass in the frontstretch, followed by a hapless gasman, Jimmy Watts, from the No. 47 team running to retrieve it.

Fan’s View: When Only a Win Will Do

Sunday afternoon during the running of the Shelby 427, Jeff Gordon added yet another amazing statistic to his career resume. Joining only six other drivers in NASCAR history, he has led the field for a total of 20,006 laps in Cup races. While the wonderful commentators on FOX made suitable note of the event, for a moment I wondered where the special paint job, etched bottle of champagne and wave of ecstatic fans were. Then I wondered why I wasn’t jumping up and down on my couch. I am, after all, one of those fans who have followed Mr. Gordon’s career since he was an itty-bitty rookie way back in ’93.

Fan’s View: The California Dream – 70 Degrees & Sunny

OK, maybe not so long ago. But back when California didn’t grace our racing calendar, when the race after Daytona was truly the start of the season – we’d hunker down and get to it. It was probably cold. The skies were likely grey in the southeast. But the roar of the engines came to life and the race was on! While California is known for its sunny, temperate weather 95% of the year, there’s something special about February in the area around Fontana… it rains. Yep, I know you know. I know the weather service knows. Why doesn’t NASCAR know?

Fan’s View: A Tradition That Goes Fast & Left

Well, that was fun. No, really! You have to admit that even with new rules changes, new teams, new double line, NASCAR applying different rules to different drivers and a rain-shortened event, you liked it. You can’t help it! You’re a NASCAR fan, and if there’s one thing that really drives this fact home every year, it’s the annual running of the Daytona 500.

Fan’s View: To Race, Perchance to Dream

So, the season is gonna suck because there’s a whole flotilla (I’ve counted 16 in the Daytona 500 entry list) of one-horse or new start-up teams. Right? Fans left and right are bemoaning the problems with field-fillers and all the trials that come with this lower echelon of NASCAR. But I don’t think it’s a problem. Personally, I don’t recall racing way back when where every team that started the race finished. In fact, in days of yore when the living legends of our sport were still behind the wheel, it was a weekly fact that about a quarter of the field would retire due to blown engines, exploding brake rotors and insanely loose cars. And just like today, the same 15 superstars competed week in and week out for the coveted Cup.

Fan’s View: Leaving the Winter of Discontent Behind

Normally at this time of the year, I’m hovering at the TV set in total anticipation of the pre-race countdown. I hunger for glimpses of new paint jobs, the familiar ring of the announcers’ voices, and the reassuring flutter of a green flag in the February afternoon. But this year is different. While the offseason plodded by to the tune of Christmas carols and depressed shoppers, our nation’s economy bit the big one. Big banks ate little ones, Detroit’s Big Three turned into the Three Blind Mice… and companies stopped spending altogether.

2009 Season Preview: Can Anyone Keep Jimmie Johnson From Making History?

Today’s Season Preview Topic: Jimmie Johnson is attempting to do something that’s never been done in the history of NASCAR: four straight championships. What will they need to do to get over the hump – and is it possible?

2009 Season Preview: Will The Big 4 Be Stopped?

Today’s Season Preview Topic: Last season, the 12 drivers that made the Chase were from just four teams (Hendrick, Gibbs, Childress and Roush). What other team has the best chance to break through and stop their Chase dominance, or are the advantages of the Big Four just too much?

2009 Season Preview: Can Joey Logano Succeed?

Today’s Season Preview Topic: Some observers have already anointed 18-year-old Joey Logano as the next great driver on the NASCAR circuit. But last season, he struggled mightily in a handful of Cup starts for Hall of Fame Racing. Is this kid capable of taking the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota back to the front… or is he the second coming of Casey Atwood?

2009 Season Preview: How Can NASCAR Survive the Economic Crisis?

Today’s Season Preview Topic: With the economic crisis front and center these days, all three of NASCAR’s top-three series are struggling to fill the fields. What should the sanctioning body do to cut costs and get both teams on the track and fans in the stands… or have they already done enough?

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

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