NASCAR Race Weekend Central

The Yellow Stripe: Can Tony Stewart Win a Sprint Cup Title in His 1st Year as an Owner?

When Tony Stewart signed on the dotted line in July 2008 to assume 50% ownership in what was the struggling Haas CNC Racing outfit, there were plenty of people lining up to tell the irascible Columbus, Ind. native that he was making a colossal mistake. That it was a great deal financially speaking was the one thing that couldn’t be argued; Stewart didn’t have to pay so much as $1 for a half-stake in the two-car outfit. But all numbers aside, the real issue was that Haas CNC Racing had hardly set the racing world alight in its first six years of operating. Indeed, a driver who’d spent the last decade defined by stock car success had purchased a team seemingly destined to fail.

The Yellow Stripe: Is Roush Fenway’s Slow Start a Case of Short Track-itis… Or a Sign of Something Else?

In the euphoria surrounding his rain-shortened victory in the Daytona 500, the self-styled perfectionist Jack Roush must have permitted himself a wry smile. Winning the biggest race of all for the very first time – after 113 previous Sprint Cup victories in 21 years of ownership – must have felt like a harbinger of what was to come in 2009. No doubt, Roush thought it was an important first step en route to what he expects will be a third Sprint Cup crown. Sadly, for the “Cat in the Hat,” it hasn’t proved to lean in that direction so far as after six rounds of action, all five of his drivers have, to some extent, underachieved.

The Yellow Stripe: Taking It to the Next Level, Which of These 10 Drivers Will Win a Sprint Cup Championship?

The label of future Sprint Cup champion is liberally dispensed — but rarely achieved. In the 60 years of NASCAR competition, only 28 drivers have attained the hallowed crown – and it’s a pretty excusive club. 12 drivers have won a solitary championship, while another eight have won two titles. Five men – Jimmie Johnson, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, David Pearson and Lee Petty – have won three; Jeff Gordon owns four, while both the King and the Intimidator won a record seven apiece. I’m going to pick a number of current drivers and analyze their chances of winning a Sprint Cup championship at some point in the near (or far) future.

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?

The Yellow Stripe: Catch 21 – Thoughts, Questions & Observations 3 Races Into 2009

21, as many of you will know, is a lucky number in Las Vegas. So, here are exactly that many questions, observations, and thoughts – in no particular order – on the season so far as the series leaves Sin City to head back east.

The Yellow Stripe: The Track Too Tough to Watch – How to Change the Boredom at California with 1 Simple Fix

As you’ve likely read plenty of places over the past 48 hours, the Auto Club Speedway is a much-maligned venue – arguably the least popular of the 22 tracks on the Sprint Cup circuit. Interest is sparse, attendance is – to put it politely – “not the best,” and in general fans breathe a sigh of relief when the haulers pull out of the west coast circuit and head for the dubious delights of Sin City.

The Yellow Stripe: Oh, So Close – Tough Luck for Elliott Sadler, Joe Gibbs Racing & Fans at the Daytona 500

Chief among those bemoaning their poor fortune was Elliott Sadler. The Emporia, Va. native came into Speedweeks under something of a cloud, having invoked legal measures this winter to keep his seat in the No. 19 car. In this treacherous economic climate, it was tough to blame the amiable 12-year veteran for pulling out all the stops to stay in his ride, but there was no doubt the pressure was on for him to perform from the get-go. On the one hand, a fifth-place finish was just the points in the bank he needed; on the other hand, it was a Mark Martin-esque case of “so close, yet so far.” Sadler, who was fortunate to assume the lead after benefiting from a timely caution, paced the field for 24 laps while weather threatened to end the race at anytime. That gave him the confidence a win was possible… but just when he had it sitting in his grasp, Kenseth passed by to take the lead a whole one lap before the rains came for good.

The Yellow Stripe: A 2009 Dream Season… How It Might Happen

One of the best and, at the same time, most terrifying aspects of being a regular columnist here on Frontstretch is that, within reason, I have carte blanche to write about anything in the NASCAR universe. With that in mind, I’m going to try something a little different and take a stab at imagining how the impending 2009 season might play out – from the high banks of Daytona this Sunday right through to championship weekend at Homestead. If, as you read this column, you’re thinking, “That’s it, he’s gone mad,” well… let me remind you that truth is almost always stranger than fiction. And NASCAR, more than many sports, shows us that week in and week out. Let the dream season begin…

The Yellow Stripe: After NASCAR’s Worst Winter Ever, Hope Springs Eternal in 2009

It has been, very much, a winter of discontent for NASCAR. With money scarce, extensive layoffs have cast a grim pallor across an industry already suffering the ramifications of the global economic crisis. Big brand names have left the sport – some, like AT&T, due to the category exclusivity deals put in place by the governing body itself – and fresh corporate cash infusions are scarcer than Michael Waltrip victories. For a sport that is quite literally fueled by sponsorship dollars, the recession has hit hard – mighty hard.

The Yellow Stripe: Top 15 Commercials of the 2008 NASCAR Season

For those who’ve not sat for hours on a set drinking coffee, eating junk food and waiting interminably for something to happen, you would be absolutely shocked at the length of time it takes to make something seemingly so simple. Throughout the creative process (which typically takes 8-12 weeks) there are so many impediments to your progress; from nervous clients to intransigent creative directors, script changes in pre-production, more script changes on the set itself and of course yet more in the editing suite. In short, it’s damn hard to produce a compelling half-minute piece of advertising and it’s even more so when you throw NASCAR drivers into the mix as, with respect, most wheelmen are not renowned for their Oscar-winning acting talent.

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