Race Weekend Central

Score Four for the Regulars: The Biggest Wins of 2011

There is no type of track on the Nationwide Series circuit that has played host to Cup dominance of the AAA ranks more than the intermediate oval, and of those Charlotte’s fall race has seen more than its share. After all, this was the race back in 2006 that saw Kevin Harvick clinch the Nationwide Series crown as the first in a stretch of five consecutive double dippers to win the minor league title while driving full-time in Cup. And it’s been six long years, dating back to 2004, since a Nationwide regular visited Charlotte’s victory lane in the fall race. It’s a depressing set of recent memories to have of a return to NASCAR’s hometown.

That being said, anyone that remembers back to 2004 still remembers Mike Bliss’ late three-wide charge to victory that left both Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson in the wake of the Rockwell Automation Chevrolet, long before Joe Gibbs Racing’s Nationwide program became the powerhouse it is today.

2011 May As Well Be Over

Want to read about Turner Motorsports? Check out Wednesday’s column. The scenarios, rumors and non-nonsensical facts that were running wild around Reed Sorenson’s firing earlier this week haven’t gone anywhere, with the picture of how the third-place driver in points lost his ride five races short of the season’s end still opaque at best.

Regardless of how it came about, Sorenson is still without a racecar with the Kansas race weekend looming. Suddenly, a three-horse race is now a two-car battle between Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Elliott Sadler. Are the pieces in place for a great duel to the finish? Sure. With only 22 markers between the two and five races to go, the ever-consistent No. 2 team needs only one ill-timed spin or trading of paint from Stenhouse and the No. 6 to get back into the hunt, even without a win on the 2011 season.

Middle-Class Meltdown: Sorenson, Turner Latest Victims Of Growing NASCAR Epidemic

Less than a month ago, NASCAR’s two lower national touring series were rocked by the news that Kevin Harvick, Incorporated was ceasing its racing operations following the close of the 2011 season. It was the first time in recent memory that a well-sponsored, upper middle-class racing organization was impacted by the harsh financial and competitive realities of today’s Nationwide Series, built as a development division combined with lifetime racing veterans that, at the moment, is creating homes for neither.

Less than a month later, disaster struck again.

5 Nationwide Series Rides That Oughta Happen

_As previously discussed in Five Points to Ponder two weeks ago, even the drivers at the top of the Nationwide Series food chain are facing a great deal of uncertainty regarding their futures in the series for 2012. Be it losing sponsors, lacking sponsors or still waiting for a contract renewal, there’s more than a full field of drivers wondering if they’ll be taking the wheel at Daytona come February. Here’s five rides that absolutely need to happen for the Nationwide ranks in 2012._


It’s a shame Carl Edwards didn’t pull a Jeff Gordon and get completely out of Nationwide racing for 2012, because over in the ARCA ranks the Ford camp has quite the prospect waiting in the wings. The younger brother of James (who’s busy threatening for a Truck Series title this season), Chris has been a regular in the ARCA Racing Series this year, and has made quite the name for himself.

ARCA Road Racers Add Flavor to Stout Nationwide Field at the Glen

Coming off what was a stellar standalone stretch featuring back-to-back short track races, the Nationwide Series turns left (and right) into Watkins Glen International. Just as with any companion race, there’s plenty of chatter surrounding the Cup regulars ready to leave their mark, be they five-time champion Jimmie Johnson in a rare minor league start or Kurt Busch filling in for the injured Brad Keselowski. There’s also the usual cast of road ringers, with 2008 Montreal winner Ron Fellows, Kyle Kelley and others making an appearance.

The lesser-told story is that of the ARCA Racing Series entrants that will be making the rounds on the New York road course this weekend. Three different situations, three different teams, and three different ways that a few of the lesser known drivers in the field just might have a dramatic impact on Saturday’s Zippo 200.

Edwards, ESPN Wavering in Face of Changing Nationwide Series

For those fans out there that believe in, and in the significance of, the Nationwide regular competing unmolested for the Nationwide Series championship, the last week has brought two pieces of positive news. For one, ESPN demonstrated some (albeit minor) improvement in their broadcast of the 200-miler from Loudon this past Saturday, dedicating time both early and throughout the broadcast to discuss the ongoing Nationwide Series championship battle and the ever-tight battle between Reed Sorenson, Elliott Sadler and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. even as Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Buschwhacker Inc. were busy leading all the laps.

With Lucas Oil Raceway Gone in 2012, Replacing Montreal of Key Importance

A couple of weeks ago in this column, I penned all the reasons I could think of that moving the Nationwide Series race at Lucas Oil Raceway to Indy’s big track was an asinine decision. And true to form, NASCAR made that asinine decision this week, announcing that stock car racing’s AAA division, along with the Grand-Am road racing series, would all be making appearances at the Brickyard during 400 weekend. The Indy purists who opposed the introduction of NASCAR to the venue back in 1994 must be at a loss for words.

Rather than restating the number of significant issues there are that will plague any stock car race run on the 2.5 mile oval, now that the schedule has been changed and the damage done it’s time to analyze what this means for the Nationwide Series.

Why TV Ratings Don’t Tell the Story of Today’s Nationwide Series

A look at the TV ratings for this past Saturday’s Nationwide Series event at Michigan International Speedway, and the casual observer would have to be forgiven for thinking all is well. Though broadcast this year in June instead of August, the single NNS event at Michigan drew ratings 25% than in 2010, part of a larger trend that sees the series viewer tallies up 20% over this point in the season a year ago.

If only TV ratings and the health of the series were so simple a correlation. NASCAR and its broadcast partners may want to sell that story for all its worth, but the argument that “ratings are solid, all is well” is a red herring. And now, on a week that’s seen a big-dollar team at the sport’s highest level reportedly ready to say goodbye after 2011, chances are its one that will be repeated ad nauseum as the powers that by attempt to paint a pretty picture of what can only be described a black week for the sport.

Say No to the Brickyard

It’s back. The Indianapolis Star is “reporting”:http://www.indystar.com/article/20110615/SPORTS01/106150321/IMS-may-add-Rolex-NASCAR-weekend that while talks have primarily centered around bringing a Grand-Am race to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course, talk has also sparked about moving the Nationwide Series race currently run the evening before the Brickyard 400 on the IRP short track to the big track itself. With attendance on the wane at the famed speedway, track executives are reportedly considering means to increase revenues, as well as Sunday attendance, for a date that until less than 20 years ago was a pipe dream for stock car racers.

RaceDaySponsor.com: The Future of the Nationwide Series?

The story of Tim Viens, President and CEO of RaceDaySponsor.com, begins as so many’s involvement in racing before him. He was a race fan.

“I was friends with Kevin Lepage up in Vermont for many years, and just through conversations at the track, I met with him, hung out, jumped over the wall a few times, and just helped him out whenever I could” recalls Viens. “A couple years ago, we had a chat at Daytona, he was looking for sponsorship, asked if I knew anyone that would be interested. I started asking questions about what it would cost, if you could do a single race…I didn’t realize you could do a single race. About a week later, I was thinking how cool would it be if a guy like me that has a small business could get involved in this sport?”

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com