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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Up to Speed: Aric Almirola Exceeding Playoff Expectations

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(Photo: Danny Peters)

Two races into the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, Aric Almirola’s performance is the biggest positive surprise.  After getting through a chaotic race in Las Vegas unscathed, Almirola earned a fifth-place finish Saturday night at Richmond Raceway.  That finish, coupled with a sixth-place run last week, has lifted Almirola to sixth 0n the …

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Up to Speed: Pressure to Win on Denny Hamlin

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(Photo: Zach Catanzareti)

Denny Hamlin has rarely suffered from a lack of wins in his NASCAR career.  Since 2006, his rookie year in the Cup Series, he has never had a winless season.  Some of those years certainly were not big-win seasons, but Hamlin always found a way to get to Victory Lane at least once. Even in …

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Up to Speed: A Long Way from 2006

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(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

After a week of mostly bad news for both drivers, Martin Truex Jr. and Kasey Kahne are at a crossroads. The announcement Furniture Row Racing would disband at the end of this season has thrown serious complications into Truex’s quest to win a second straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.  Chances are that Truex …

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Up to Speed: The Darlington Excellence of Herb Thomas

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(Photo: Zach Catanzareti)

Darlington Raceway has been turning NASCAR drivers into legends for nearly 70 years.  Winning at the notoriously difficult track that is “Too Tough to Tame” often puts an exclamation mark on the careers of some of NASCAR’s brightest stars. It is almost unthinkable that David Pearson visited Darlington’s Victory Lane 10 times.  Dale Earnhardt had …

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Up to Speed: Will Team Penske Catch Stewart-Haas Racing in the Playoffs?

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(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

There is a battle brewing among the Ford teams in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.  With the postseason just weeks away, all four Stewart-Haas Racing cars are poised to make the playoff field.  Team Penske has all three of its drivers heading for the playoffs as well.  With at least seven drives ready to …

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Up to Speed: Bristol Slugfest Puts Strain on Toyota Alliance

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(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

With 12 races left in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. have maintained their status as championship favorites.  The two of them, along with Kevin Harvick, have combined to win 17 of 24 races run thus far.  All three drivers have known for months they will be …

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Up to Speed: What Comes Next for Ryan Newman?

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(Photo: Zach Catanzareti)

NASCAR’s silly season is beginning to heat up and drivers are fighting to secure a place in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.  The focus of competitors and fans is shifting toward racers who can put together a strong finish to the season, and what might be in store for 2019. Ryan Newman’s future, …

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Up to Speed: Chase Elliott Captures the Experience of Winning

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(Photo: Zach Catanzareti)

Bill Elliott grabbed the attention of the NASCAR world on Saturday.  His upcoming XFINITY Series start at Road America will mark his first major NASCAR race in six years. By Sunday evening, Chase Elliott had stolen his father’s thunder.  In his 99th start in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the younger Elliott held off …

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Up to Speed: Kyle Busch Carries the Banner for Joe Gibbs Racing

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(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Kyle Busch won at Pocono Raceway on Sunday.  That’s not unusual.  What is unusual, at least for 2018, is how close his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates came to beating him. In fact, all four JGR drivers had solid showings at Pocono.  Daniel Suarez drove the best race of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career, …

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Up to Speed: Tickets to the Smoke Show

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(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

This was a good week to be Tony Stewart. On Wednesday, Stewart’s Eldora Speedway hosted the Camping World Truck Series.  As the only dirt track race that any of NASCAR’s national series runs, the Eldora Dirt Derby is always a highly-anticipated event.  This year’s edition featured plenty of action, capped with a photo finish between …

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Up to Speed: Can Ryan Blaney Turn the Tide as the Playoffs Approach?

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Photo: Danny Peters

Ryan Blaney is playoff bound in 2018. No, he does not have a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win this year.  He did come close Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway (July 14) by finishing second to Martin Truex Jr.  It is Blaney’s best finish of the season and his first top five in 12 races. …

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Up to Speed: Drivers go from Hero to Zero at Daytona

2018 Daytona II CUP Kasey Kahne leads NKP

(Photo: AP)

Daytona International Speedway has been a fixture in NASCAR for 60 years.  Its towering banks and high speeds have held the power to humble drivers from the very beginning. This weekend continued a long tradition at the World Center of Racing.  Drivers arrive in Daytona expressing optimism about their chances to reach Victory Lane.  While …

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