NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Voice Of Vito

No Respect: Media Making Martin Odd Man Out at Hendrick

Ever since Kasey Kahne was named the heir apparent to Hendrick Motorsports' No. 5 currently driven by Mark Martin, many in the motoring press are falling all over themselves, salivating over the idea of Kahne taking over the car a year early in 2011. Mind you, Martin signed an extension in 2009 to drive full-time through the end of that 2011 season — even though HMS originally wanted him through 2012. But as it turns out, contracts have nothing on conspiracy theories these days. To say Martin’s the Rodney Dangerfield of racing right now would be a bit contradictory. You would be hard-pressed to find one driver in the garage area that is as universally lauded, applauded, and held in higher esteem than he.

Read More »

Kasey Kahne to Hendrick Motorsports — But Is It For Martin Or Earnhardt?

"ESPN reported":http://sports.espn.go.com/rpm/nascar/cup/news/story?id=5082269 Tuesday afternoon that Kasey Kahne has signed a multi-year agreement with Rick Hendrick, leaving Richard Petty Motorsports effective the end of the 2010 season. The announcement comes as quite a blow to RPM, who had been riding a wave of good fortune in recent weeks with Paul Menard’s improbable top-12 points performance and A.J. Allmendinger’s pole-winning run at Phoenix. It also comes on the heels of reports that RPM has defaulted on a $90 million loan and is in the midst of further debt restructuring. But here's one emotion no one from that team should be feeling tonight: shock. From as early as last year, Kahne had essentially put RPM on notice he wanted out.

Read More »

What’s Vexing Vito – Why NASCAR Needs to Put The Gloves Back On Before Somebody Gets a Black Eye.

I have a number of dog-eared copies of the old racing newsletter _Southern MotoRacing_, given to me in a Peters shotgun shell box by my father. Bill Tuthill and Hank Schoolfield’s weekly racing mailer was one of the few forms of communication of our favorite sport available to those of …

Read More »

Doing What’s Right and Doing What Matters: What NASCAR Can Use More and Less Of

With the Martinsville race pushed back to Monday, it shelved _Voice of Vito_ for this week. I know, all of you are crushed... I don’t blame you, since not only am I single and devastatingly handsome, but I can also wield a keyboard like Bill Jordan could a Model 19 Smith & Wesson. All kidding aside, (except the single and really, really good looking part…) it did give me an extra day to think about my lone off-week topic. With the series headed for Easter break, let's take a break of our own and look at some of what NASCAR needs more of -- as well as decidedly less of -- after six races of 2010.

Read More »

Paul Menard Turning Back The Clock With Top 10 Points Run

Some things in life remain an inevitability – death, taxes, more taxes, and Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus, and the No. 48 team winning yet another race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The win Sunday was very reminiscent of a 1997 one scored by their predecessors at Hendrick Motorsports, Jeff Gordon and Ray Evernham, when Gordon plowed into the back of Rusty Wallace on the last lap, shooting him up the track and clearing the way after the Miller Lite No. 2 machine had dominated the afternoon. But while the motorsports media at large has been heralding yet another victory by the four-time defending champion, there was another performance that went largely unnoticed Sunday at Bristol: the 18th place run by Richard Petty Motorsports driver Paul Menard.

Read More »

Carl Edwards’ Free Pass From NASCAR Sets Dangerous Precedent

I received a call around midday Tuesday from Frontstretch's Owner and Managing Editor Tom Bowles, asking me to change the topic of this week's column. Not surprisingly, he requested a reaction piece for the NASCAR penalty issued to Carl Edwards following his lap 323 swipe at Brad Keselowski. You may have seen it by now: it was the crash that sent Keselowski's Penske Charger inverted and imbedded, roof-first, into the frontstretch wall at Atlanta. (By the way, it turns out that when you have a wing attached to something traveling the same speed aircraft do when they take off, they really do tend to fly away. But I digress...) So what would be the price to pay for Edwards, exacting vigilante revenge on a superspeedway while 156 laps down?

Read More »

Censorship Be Damned: Access to Drivers is NASCAR’s Greatest Asset

The age old question of whether or not drivers should be interviewed after an on-track incident was raised again last weekend, after Earnhardt Ganassi Racing teammates Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya were involved in an accident on lap 94. Upon exiting the infield care center and examining the crumpled lump that a few minutes earlier was a top 10 Target Chevy, Montoya wasted little time with an uncensored synopsis: “He run straight into my ass. He nearly ran me into the fence in Turn Two as well. I don't know. He's not doing himself any favors. I'm sure he is going to say, 'Oh, I didn't mean that.'"

Read More »

The ‘Stache: The Secret To Drivers Winning Races Is Right Under Their Nose

From time to time, the mystery and complexity of life confounds my mind, and I'm prone to fits of absolute wonder. For instance, why didn’t Jimmy Spencer compete in the Bud Shootout in Daytona? Instead of these dumb stimulus packages that don’t work, why not just give everybody a million dollars? Where did the name for the Chevrolet car “Chevelle” come from – and what does it mean? And how come mustaches aren’t cool anymore?

Read More »

Green-White-Checker Continues To Fly In The Face of Tradition

The other day I was looking at some novelty T-shirts online, and happened across one that would appeal to the extremist at heart. It read, “When All Else Fails – Vote From The Rooftops,” replete with the image of a rifle topped with a scope and bi-pod. As I watched the green-white-checker finish of the Stater Brothers 300 shortly after, that message came to mind as I thought back to how we got to these last lap do-over racing shenanigans in the first place. This relatively new idea to the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, that originated as a way to generate interest in the new rough and tumble Truck Series during the mid-1990s was not born from determining a race winner solely through competition. It was precipitated by the riotous outburst from some fans along the superstretch at Daytona following the end of the 2002 Pepsi 400.

Read More »

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s Daytona Rally: A Shot In The Dark?

It sure was an eventful Speedweeks for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. First, he was able to qualify his No. 88 AMP Energy Chevrolet on the outside of the front row two weekends ago. The following Saturday, his new entry in the Nationwide Series seemed to garner a lot of attention for some reason. The No. 7 GoDaddy Chevrolet piloted by Danica Patrick was the toast of the town, the biggest story of the DRIVE4COPD 300 that helped drive record ratings for the race. But once she crashed out, Earnhardt got busy stealing air time himself, running up front and threatening to take home the win - until he executed a spot-on facsimile of his father’s blow-over, barrel-roll wreck back in 1997 on the backstretch.

Read More »