NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Matt McLaughlin Mouths Off: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Sounds the Nationwide Series Alarm

Though he’s a bit more polished than the rough around the edges kid he once was, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is still struggling to get this politically correct thing down. Occasionally, he’ll still drop an unanticipated bombshell that will send NASCAR officials scrambling to their shelters — and this week in Charlotte, Earnhardt delivered another one of those off-the-cuff set of remarks that ought to cause a lot of concern.

Voices from the Heartland: Running on Empty? No, Running on Faith!

At the other end of the spectrum, you have arguably the biggest, most important sponsor of all time. This “sponsor” does not sit down every few years and negotiate a new contract for x amount of dollars. No, they wrote their first contract many, many years ago and, in fact, have never “renegotiated” it since. That sponsor is God… and his team is Faith Motorsports.

Mirror Driving: Junior a Car Owner? Kyle a Truck Wrecker? & How to Change the All-Star Race

The Sprint All-Star Race lacked the excitement of previous years. Why was that, and what can be done to revitalize the race in the future?

Voice of Vito: So I Was Just Thinking… NASCAR Odds ‘N’ Ends

There were a few ideas I had bouncing around in my head about what to write this week. Kyle Busch continuing to win races just to spite Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans; Tony Stewart’s future plans that may include ownership of a team; Larry McReynolds’ futile struggle to pronounce Patrick Carpantier’s name’ or the continued phenomenon known as ‘Digger’ – the answer to a question that nobody asked. Instead, below are a few random musings from watching the races this past weekend at Darlington, as the track that has been deemed, “Too Tough To Tame” provided much fuel for thought.

Driven to the Past: Tommy Houston

One of the wildest accidents I’ve ever seen happened in the 1987 Kroger 200 at IRP. It was the first time Dale Earnhardt came up there to run it. At the practice session the day before, I had Tommy Houston set up for an interview with an Indianapolis TV station, when the reporter came over and said his producer called and wanted him to do an interview with Earnhardt instead.

Are We Primed For the Closest Nationwide Series Championship Race in Years?

In the five weeks since I last penned (or should that be typed) a Nuts for Nationwide column, we’ve seen racing in a variety of different venues encompassing short tracks, road courses, superspeedways and the more traditional 1.5-mile tracks. The schedule has tested both the skills of the drivers as well unearthing numerous logistical challenges – not least transporting cars and equipment to and from Mexico City. Following the conclusion of the Darlington race this evening, the Nationwide Series will take a deserved week off before a spell of 16 straight weeks of racing that will run through the second Richmond date in early September. So with a third of the season in the books, give or take the odd percentage point or two, let’s take a look at some of the general themes that have emerged in this inaugural season for new sponsor Nationwide.

Mirror Driving: Making Sense of Richmond Night Fights – Junior vs. Busch, Busch vs. Wallace & Waltrip vs. Mears

Obviously, the number one topic following Richmond is the contact between Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. But here’s a question for you: If the roles were reversed, would the public be anointing Earnhardt. the “villain” the way they’ve been doing to Busch? Along those lines, is Busch getting a bad rap?

Voice of Vito: Kyle Busch, The Sound of 1 Hand Clapping Drowned Out by a Million Boos

Saturday’s Crown Royal presents The Dan Lowry 400 was a relatively quiet affair… for the first 95% of the evening, that is. At that point, Denny Hamlin had led all but one lap of 382 circuits around the 3/4-mile speedway in front of his hometown crowd. It had been a fairly smooth race, save for the Patrick Carpentier (or as Larry McReynolds says, “Partrick Compartier”) pinball imitation on lap 231, followed by Michael Waltrip’s parking after mistaking Casey Mears for a Demolition Derby contestant on lap 356. But how quickly things can change in this sport. On lap 383, it was Hamlin’s tire going the way of the dinosaur, eventually causing the caution that would bunch up the field in time for the last few laps. Just like that, several teams who’d simply been watching Hamlin dominate throughout the better portion of the evening suddenly became contenders.

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