Race Weekend Central

5 Points To Ponder: Edwards’ Early End, Bowyer-Gordon And Old Habits Die Hard

=After all the hype of what was ultimately a pretty disappointing Great American Race, it’s back to the start of the “real” unrestricted regular season with a trip to the desert and the one-mile flat track of Phoenix International Raceway, which is exactly where I’ll start this week’s edition of Five Points to Ponder.

*ONE: A Return To The Scene Of The Crime: Round Two*

For Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon, in particular, the trip to the desert is a return to an ugly/entertaining flashback – depending on your point of view. “Rewind back with me to the unforgettable penultimate race of last season when Gordon took out Bowyer”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxAEnmOLXdQ – who still had an outside shot at the championship – in a bush league move.

Double Standards in Play as Gordon Avoids a Deserved Suspension

Well that was quite the race wasn’t it?

In fact, so much happened between Jeff Gordon’s deliberate and premeditated wrecking of Clint Bowyer just before the leader took the white flag, I almost forgot there was still a race to finish whilst the fifteen-minute red flag delay occurred. In many ways Kevin Harvick’s victory and Brad Keselowski all but sealing his first Sprint Cup championship became little more than afterthoughts, given the melee and general carnage after Gordon’s remarkably ill-advised on track actions.

Five Nights in SoPo: Sometimes, It’s Good To Just Watch A Race

We take so much in life for granted. We really do.

In this super modern 24/7 always on, never off world of high-tech gadgets and space-age technology, just the simple act of flicking a light switch on and expecting the power to do its thing is something that never registers so much as a flicker of a thought. Being able to relax with a frosted beverage (from your cold fridge) and watch the NASCAR race on TV Sunday afternoon is another example.

The simple stuff – you know what I mean.

An Ode to Martinsville: The Short Track That Could

After the caution flag craziness of the freshly repaved Kansas Speedway and the previous week’s somnolent procession at Charlotte Motor Speedway, it sure will be good to get back to Martinsville Speedway this Sunday afternoon for some old school racing. Now, in the interests of full disclosure, and put as simply as possible, I love Martinsville. For me, it’s one of the best, if not the best, track on the current schedule. So if you’re looking for an article full of doom and gloom, dire predictions and proclamations as to the worrying state of NASCAR’s future, I suggest you click away now because this column is going to accentuate the positive.

Why? Simple: I absolutely love Martinsville.

For Once, It’s Jeff Gordon Who Needs to Bite His Tongue

When one thinks of NASCAR racers making stupid comments in press conferences, there’s no shortage of names that come to mind: Harvick, the Busches, Stewart, these names easily roll off the tongue. Then there’s the heat of the moment stupids such as Kevin Lepage insisting he did nothing wrong by merging into traffic at Talladega or Todd Bodine abdicating all responsibility for his actions at Daytona.

Enough of the Petulant Kurt Busch

So here’s a question. If Furniture Row Racing asks nicely, can they get Regan Smith back for a few more weeks? After all, the rumor mill is swirling that one Kurt Busch may be facing his second suspension of the 2012 season after the weekend’s race at Talladega. Busch, who got dumped in traffic after running out of fuel in the draft, ended up driving his wrecked car away from first responders, who not only had their equipment stashed on the roof of the wrecked machine, but were also visibly working and communicating inside the race car.

The Chase Favorite After Dover…Is Still Jimmie Johnson

The way things are being written, one would think Brad Keselowski was Miles the Monster himself after this weekend at Dover, a giant who smashed all before him in a decisive victory that left nothing in its wake. For those living under a rock on Sunday (and Monday), here’s a quick reminder; Brad Keselowski’s No. 2 was not the best car this race day. Brad did indeed blow by Jimmie Johnson for the lead…when the No. 48 was running at 80% throttle and the dominant JGR Toyotas of Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin fell victim to TRD’s awful fuel mileage. And yes, Brad did score his second win of the Chase, and in doing so built a mammoth five-point lead over Jimmie Johnson. Give that man the trophy.

Bold Brad and Determined Denny Primed to Put the Six Pack on Ice

Is there anything more depressing for the eleven other Chase participants than seeing Jimmie Johnson atop the standings headed to a track — Dover International Speedway — where he routinely re-defines the word dominance? Back in June at the first race of the year at the high banked concrete one-miler, the No. 48 team eviscerated the competition, starting second and leading 289 of the 400 laps. The victory moved Johnson up to third on the all-time laps led list at the Monster Mile with 2,275 in just 21 starts; his seventh victory also tied him for most all-time alongside Richard Petty and Bobby Allison — two legends of the sport.

“God, I love this place,” said Johnson as he celebrated his June victory.

One Year Later: The IndyCar Finale

October 16, 2011 was meant to be a celebration of all that was good about IndyCar racing: a gripping conclusion to a tense, frenetic championship battle between the reigning champion Dario Franchitti and his chief protagonist, Australian Will Power, who had won six races on the year and was chasing his maiden IndyCar series title. A huge field of 34 cars, eight more than typically took to the track, would contest the finale that terrible day on the high banks of the mile-and-a-half Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was the 18th and final race in a season that had seen events in Brazil, Canada and Japan.

Where Next for Kyle Busch, No. 18 Team?

There really is no excuse for a driver the caliber of Kyle Busch or the No. 18 team missing the Chase for the second time in four seasons. A force on the race track that blasted from Cup prospect to all-star on the back of an eight-win 2008 campaign, which faltered in the Chase, then ultimately resulted in less than a season later Busch failing to object to crew chief Steve Addington being forced off the box of the No. 18, 12 wins in the past two seasons notwithstanding.

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