NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Tony Lumbis

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?

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2008 Driver Review: Mark Martin

On the surface, it may seem like this year’s part-time gig was not as successful as Mark Martin's 2007 campaign, which saw him nearly win NASCAR’s crown jewel event and step out of the driver’s seat with the points lead four races in. However, the stats show that these two seasons were almost identical. Martin recorded one less top five in 2008 than the previous year, and the same number of top 10s while finishing only one spot lower in driver points. The season was certainly one of inconsistency, though, as Martin would contend in the top five on some weeks and barely crack the top 15 on others.

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2008 Driver Review: Jeff Burton

There are very few things in this world that are as consistent as Jeff Burton, and 2008 proved that theory once again. His season started out with a bang when the team went on a tear of six consecutive top-10 finishes, starting at Las Vegas, a run that was highlighted by a surprise win at Bristol. In fact, it was those types of performances that propelled Burton to the points lead for four weeks, an accomplishment that was easily overlooked during the early dominance of Kyle Busch.

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2008 Sprint Cup Rookie Report Cards: Economic Woes and Poor Performances Leave Their Mark

After a successful freshman campaign by Juan Pablo Montoya which included a win at Infineon, that trend set the tone for the freshman class of 2008, as four out of the six Rookie of the Year candidates were open-wheel converts. Just nine months later, there is a very real difference for those open wheelers that debuted in '08 as compared to '07 -- just one of them appears ready to survive for a second season. What went wrong, and could their mistakes have been corrected? It’s now time for Professor Lumbis to grade their performance throughout the season, and take a look at the other new faces that emerged onto the scene and what the future may hold for them.

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Scott Speed Diary: Learning From Jimmie Johnson in 2008 While Looking Forward to 2009

Well, the 2008 season has come to a close, and it certainly has been an interesting one for me. Overall, this year has been one big learning experience. In fact, there has been so much I've taken in that it’s difficult to point out any one thing as the most significant learning experience for me. When you are at the Cup level, you learn so much in just one weekend because you are racing with the guys at the top, so you pick up things that much quicker. What really helped me down the stretch was pulling double duty between the Trucks and the Cup cars. It’s sometimes hard to go from one series to the other, but having the extra laps of experience is by far the most valuable thing in racing. I’ve enjoyed driving for Bill Davis Racing in the Truck Series. I have no idea if I’ll have an opportunity again with them next year; we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Scott Speed Provides 2009 Preview as 2008 Freshman Candidates Fizzle

In an attempt to secure a starting position for Scott Speed in the first five events of 2009, Team Red Bull elected to put veteran Brian Vickers in Speed’s No. 84 team, while the rookie drove the No. 83 normally driven by his teammate. The move paid off, as not only did Vickers put his teammate’s car back into the Top 35 in points, but Speed enjoyed the best weekend of his short career in sunny South Florida.

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Marcos Ambrose Angling For Solid Finish To 2008

After seeing how the No. 00 (now No. 47) chewed up and spat out Michael McDowell earlier this season, I was very skeptical about Marcos Ambrose taking the wheel of this ride full-time. But, three races into his tenure as the team’s full-time driver, Ambrose has raced his way into and finished all of his events; and frankly, he's provided some of the most stable driving the team has seen since it opened the year with David Reutimann. Ambrose’s involvement in the lap 274 incident was entirely out of his control, and his ability to power home to a lead-lap finish was impressive. I’m still not convinced that Ambrose and the No. 47 team are ready to go Cup racing full-time in 2009, but their performance over the last three weeks has definitely not hurt the stock of NASCAR’s favorite Aussie.

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Brad Keselowski has Impressive Debut While Joey Logano Struggles

Strapping yourself behind the wheel of a Rick Hendrick car is almost equivalent to placing a cape on your back…it almost makes you superman. With Jimmie Johnson on his way to a remarkable third straight championship and three drivers in the Chase, it seems like there is no such thing as a bad Hendrick team, and Brad Keselowski’s No. 25 was no exception. Let’s make sure we give some credit to the driver though. With two wins and 10 top fives in the Nationwide Series, the Michigan-native has proven that he can wheel a racecar with the best of them. Match that with the fact that his boss is taking the time to develop this young talent, and you have a driver who may very well not only be the future star of Hendrick Motorsports but of the entire sport. There’s no doubt about it, Keselowski’s debut was impressive as he recovered from a shaky start, kept his car out of trouble and finished the race with a top 20. I’m looking forward to seeing him in his next race at this level.

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Sam Hornish Jr. Bounces Back From Crash To Widen Lead At Atlanta

From the drop of the green flag, it looked like it would be a long afternoon for Hornish. Yet again, his No. 77 team was forced to start from the rear of the pack after qualifying was rained out on Friday. Then, on lap 2, the rookie was involved in a wreck with veteran Bill Elliott and subsequently penalized a lap for pitting too early following the incident. But not all was lost for the driver of the Mobil 1 Dodge, as both he and crew chief Travis Geisler would continue working on the machine until it was good enough to make its way to the front. It may have taken most of the day to reach that point, but after running outside of the top 30, Hornish made a late-race charge that resulted in a 24th-place finish, two laps off the pace. It was the rookie’s first top-25 finish since Charlotte two weeks ago.

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Scott Speed’s Debut Overshadowed by Almirola’s Short-Track Success

The rain on Friday worked in Aric Almirola’s favor when he inherited a 15th-place starting position by virtue of his team’s position in owner points. But while the U.S. Army Chevy faded a bit early, it would be pit strategy employed by crew chief Tony Gibson that would put Almirola back up front. After pitting during the first caution of the day, Gibson made the call to keep Almirola on the track after the day’s second yellow when Kasey Kahne’s Dodge came to a halt. The move gave Almirola the lead for his second consecutive start, and this time, the No. 8 car would lead a total of 53 circuits -- a career-high for the rookie.

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