NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Voice Of Vito

Voice of Vito: Toyota’s Preseason Testing Numbers the Shape of Things to Come?

During preseason testing at Daytona, Las Vegas, and California, there was no mistaking that a good number of Toyotas put up some rather impressive numbers -- a far cry from a year ago, when the manufacturer proved the laughing stock of Speedweeks. The consistency on top of the boards has truly been something to see. At Daytona, half of the top 10 fastest single-car runs and six of the top 10 cars in the draft were Toyotas. In Las Vegas, the emerging Toyota threat began to take shape in each session. On the first day in the morning session, Denny Hamlin posted the fastest speed, with Kyle Busch posting the fifth. In the afternoon, Kyle Busch bested fellow Toyota teammate Tony Stewart by nearly .20 seconds... and four of the top five fastest afternoon times were by Stewart or Busch. The next day's AM session had four of the top six cars as Toyotas.

Read More »

The Best of Frontstretch: Give Me a Break – The Significance of Martin Finally Taking the Week Off as Promised

Much has been made this season about whether or not Martin would renege on his initial wish to not compete full-time in 2007. After all, it was 2005 that was supposed to be Martin's last go round in Cup in the first place. Two years later, the veteran's stronger now than he was then; following a controversial finish at Daytona that had him winning the 500 but losing the Daytona 505, a string of four top-10 finishes has him leading the points this early in the year for the first time since 2000. During the last month, Martin's faced renewed pressure from the media, fans, and his fellow competitors to keep those good times rolling, giving him the opportunity to perhaps cash in on a long-awaited chance at a championship. This time, however, Martin appears to be making good on a plan he had set in motion way back in 2003.

Read More »

Voice of Vito: Hendrick Motorsports’ Decade of Dominance… & Then Some

Rick Hendrick's team has fielded cars for some of the iconic names in racing's modern era: Darrell Waltrip, Al Unser Jr., Cup champion Terry Labonte, and the late Tim Richmond. In the process, the man became a pioneer, fielding multi-car teams that seemed to work together much better than others before. This became the foundation upon which Hendrick would build an empire; with his centerpiece, the heir-apparent to the throne who would make his arrival at the final race of 1992 at Atlanta. Teaming him with a young crew chief who cut his teeth in modifieds, Rick Hendrick was about to set the racing world on its ear, as the duo of driver Jeff Gordon and crew chief Ray Evernham had come together for a magical pairing.

Read More »

Voice of Vito: Change for the Better – Helping The CoT From Becoming a PoS

It's no secret that I am not a fan of the Car of Tomorrow. Just saying the phrase elicits certain feelings: Anger. Spite. Loathing. Still... as much as I would love to sit here and rail against it for another 1,500 words, I have made peace with the fact that it is here to stay, and you should, too. Call it what you will - a work in progress or mechanical cruelty - but there's no denying this is the vehicle that will represent NASCAR for well into the next decade. With this weekend's race at Phoenix being the last for the CoT's initial foray into competition, we thought it would be a good time to reflect on the car, how it has performed to date, and what can be done to help make racing better for both the fans and the drivers - before these things go full-time in 2008.

Read More »

Voice of Vito: 2007 the Year the Wheels Came Off the Gravy Train for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Following this past weekend's race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the championship Chase tightened considerably between point leader Jeff Gordon and teammate Jimmie Johnson. But as Johnson stood spraying the bubbly in Victory Lane - winner of his second straight race in the playoffs - cleanup crews were busy picking up parts and pieces sprayed all over the racetrack, most of them belonging to a certain No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet. While the two Hendrick teammates prepared for the next battle in a long, hard-fought race to the title, their future teammate remained in possession of a sole, irrefutable fact reinforced from what would turn out to be a horrific Sunday ending. No question about it... the wheels have now come off Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s season. Literally.

Read More »

Voice of Vito: NASCAR Drivers Getting Their Just Desserts, Earnings Finally Matching Those of Other Major Athletes

All decade long, we've heard such age-old discussion of how NASCAR drivers stack up to the athletic performances of the stick 'n' ball sports: Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NHL, and the NBA. You can go back and forth on that question for ages; but in the end, you'll never be able to test athletes on the same athletic skill that makes them so great. However, there's another area where direct comparison is readily available; it's a mode of financial number crunching that goes far beyond physical talent laid out on a track, a football field, or a baseball diamond, one that gives you an idea of just how much one man measures up against another. It's the checkbook.

Read More »

Voice of Vito: NASCAR Fans Still Reviled Among the Elite

Last week the Washington Times reported that the Democratic head of the Homeland Security Committee (the ones who try to find the best way to keep airplanes out of buildings and bombs off of buses), instructed aides to receive immunization shots prior to embarking on a fact-finding mission. Among the diseases they were most concerned with: hepatitis, diphtheria, tetanus and influenza. Just what far flung, third-world crap hole that time forgot were they traveling to? Iraq? Sudan? The Ivory Coast? Nope. Charlotte, N.C. Lowe's Motor Speedway was their target objective.

Read More »

Voice of Vito: Talladega Plus the Car of Tomorrow Equals the NFL & a Nap

From my seat in the stands (for this particular race, a sage green upholstered one in front of a 57" Hitachi), Talladega looked a lot like sitting alongside I-94 in Michigan in the middle of a construction zone. The only thing that reminded me that it was Talladega was seeing Old Glory proudly waving behind the semi-truck in the "fly-by" during the pre-race ceremonies. Instead of the slicing and dicing, three-wide racing we usually see, the majority of the race was a single file, bumper-to-bumper train along the top of the racetrack. To say that it was like watching paint dry would be an insult to freshly applied coats of satin everywhere.

Read More »

Voice of Vito: Much Ado About Nothing at Kansas – Attempting to Create Controversy Where There is None

The Chase for the Nextel Cup is now three weeks old, and there is yet to emerge a dominant or favored contender to win the 2007 championship in NASCAR's elite division. Mainly because everyone keeps wrecking. One would think that might be a talking point as we move 1/3 of the way through the title chase. However, the biggest story coming out of Kansas this week was Greg Biffle winning the Lifelock 400. Or not winning the Lifelock 400 if you ask Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer.

Read More »