NASCAR Race Weekend Central

The Yellow Stripe: Will the Real Gillett Evernham Motorsports Please Stand Up, Please Stand Up…

If you were starting a new three-car team in NASCAR next season — and let’s just set aside the financial burden and inevitable sponsorship woes that come with a start-up outfit for a minute — you could do a lot worse than to assemble your own trio of wheelmen from the sort of stable of drivers you see at Gillett Evernham Motorsports. Just a quick glance at the roster shows you just how good you’ve already got it. You have the young-ish, successful hot shot and sponsor’s dream in Kasey Kahne; the affable, (mostly) talented, good ol’ boy veteran in Elliott Sadler; and the exotic (in NASCAR terms) open-wheeler looking to become a crossover star in Patrick Carpentier. OK, you’re almost certainly saying, “Well, I’d pick Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, or NASCAR’s newest arch-villain himself, Kyle Busch…” but I’m sure you get the point: it’s not exactly a bad set of drivers to start with.

The Yellow Stripe: Shooting TV Ads with the NASCAR Stars – My Memories Behind the Scenes

Advertising is a fickle business at even the best of times. Long hours, low pay, huge stress, and the odd co-worker who’d stab you in the back at the drop of a hat are just some of the daily occupational hazards. Believe me when I say it’s not all martinis at lunchtime on Madison Avenue – far from it. But occasionally, amidst the machinations of one of the most cutthroat professions in the world, there are brilliant days – the sort of days that remind you why you got into the industry in the first place. For me, those days came when we made TV commercials with the NASCAR drivers you see each weekend.

The Yellow Stripe: 7 Golden Rules for a Rookie NASCAR Columnist

Like everything in life, you can only do your best but over the course of what is essentially a 40-week stretch, you might just come up short every now and again. Thinking of and writing a cogent column of around 1,000 words is not that easy… and it’s especially the case since I’m still a rookie NASCAR reporter. I don’t have a bank of reserve columns or a string of topics to wax lyrical upon. So, with the All-Star “break” upon us already, here are my seven golden rules for a rookie NASCAR columnist…

The Yellow Stripe: They Come in All Shapes & Sizes – Ranking the Types of NASCAR Tracks Across America

Can you imagine how mind numbing it would be to watch 36 races in a row at Fontana, or a season composed entirely of 500-mile Sunday afternoon races at Pocono – about a third of which would probably be blighted by poor weather? Even the best tracks in that scenario would get dull awful quick. Fans across the country would be turning off in droves after watching week after week of “The Big One.” And they’d be equally bored with 10 months straight of high-banked half-mile racing at Thunder Valley, regardless of how much beatin’ and bangin’ there was on offer. Variety, as the old cliché goes, truly is the spice of life.

The Yellow Stripe: 8 Thoughts After 8 Races in 2008

Technically speaking, we’ll be at the quarter pole mark following the conclusion of the rollercoaster ride at Talladega this Sunday; but, with a brief pause in the relentless slog that is the Sprint Cup schedule, it’s a good time to put out eight thoughts and questions with eight races of the 2008 season in the books.

The Yellow Stripe: Should NASCAR Race Outside the U.S.?

Since 2004, the all-American sport has become increasingly international. Toyota’s arrival in the Truck Series, then Cup and Nationwide, the first foreign manufacturer in the sport in 40 years, and a driver pool at Cup level that now includes a Colombian, a Scot and a French-Canadian are some of the changes. This weekend, the expansion continues as the Nationwide Series returns to Mexico for a fourth straight year. With the Cup Series enjoying a rare weekend off, the eyes of the racing public will be on the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, a storied road course in Mexico City. So it’s as appropriate a time as any to consider whether or not the quintessentially American sport should continue to sanction races outside of the US?

The Yellow Stripe: Does the 3-Peat for Jimmie Johnson Start Here?

If the officials of NASCAR could draw up the perfect Sprint Cup champion – a man who would best represent the sport to the racing community and the world at large – then you can be pretty sure they would use Jimmie Johnson as a template. He looks the part, always says the right things, plugs his sponsors with relentless efficiency, never seems flustered… and he even has a photogenic wife. Over the last couple of seasons — with the exception of some pre-2007 season golf cart hijinks — Johnson has been the very definition for many of what it means to be a graceful, deferential back-to-back champion when outside the racecar.

The Yellow Stripe: Is It Already Bust Rather than Chase for Juan Pablo Montoya?

Following the conclusion of Montoya’s eventful 2007, car owner Chip Ganassi was optimistic about the prospects of the No. 42 headed into 2008. As he put it: “I don’t want to say ‘Chase or bust,’ but… Chase or bust.” Ganassi hasn’t backed away from those comments; but after the seventh race of the season and no top 10s, things aren’t looking pretty. After running as high as second in the late stages of the Daytona 500, Montoya faded to finish 32nd – the last car on the lead lap – and things haven’t been hitting on all cylinders since. Another ho-hum finish at Texas Sunday also reversed what had been a gentle upward curve in results for Montoya.

The Yellow Stripe: How Much Will Be Enough For Dale Earnhardt Jr.?

Last year, ahead of the spring race at Martinsville, Dale Earnhardt Jr. expressed frustration at the sheer dominance of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon on the smallest track the Sprint Cup Circuit has to offer. On Sunday, the No. 88 finished behind the 24 and 48 once again; but while the frustrations remained, the expectations were far different. This time, all three were running for Hendrick Motorsports, something few would have predicted at the time of Junior’s annoyance twelve months earlier. But none of them would have ventured a guess as to what else was in the forecast; that the second time around, it would be Junior, not his teammates, who truly had the upper hand, as the son of a legend works to manage the burden of great expectations set before him.

The Yellow Stripe: Is Denny Hamlin Suffering a Junior Jinx?

In every episode of the hit Bravo TV show “Project Runway,” the delectable German Supermodel Heidi Klum makes the solemn proclamation that, “In Fashion, one day you’re in. The next you’re out.”

Now, I realize you’re probably wondering if you clicked onto the wrong website, or if the esteemed editors of Frontstretch are playing some kind of a joke… but hear me out. Yes, Project Runway is not a show I would expect to show up on too many NASCAR fans “can’t miss TV” lists, but Heidi’s famous line is one that has parallels to our own beloved sport because:

“In NASCAR, one day you’re in. The next you’re out.”

If you’re in any doubt of that, just look into the mindset of Denny Hamlin, because the driver of the No. 11 FedEx Camry has had a nightmare start to 2008.

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