Recent Posts

Driven To The Past : The Infamous Fake Accident

Okay, I got forced into this one by one of Ren Jonsin’s trivia questions this week... It was Wednesday’s question about the pro football team’s stadium where Tom Pistone, Fireball Roberts, Curtis Turner, and Glen Wood won NASCAR races. The answer, of course, was Soldier Field, now home of the Chicago Bears, so technically that is correct. However, Da Bears didn’t start playing their season schedule at Soldier Field until 1971, and the last nationally-sanctioned stock car race there was a USAC event won by Norm Nelson on August 12, 1967. The track was listed as a half mile, but I suspect it was closer to a 3/8ths. Tommy Thompson (not our writer, the driver from Louisville in NASCAR’s early days) once told me it was a “big three-eighths.”

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Nuts for Nationwide: The Future Is Now At Memphis

For race fans out there looking for an event to watch this weekend where the storylines and action will be there regardless of how the points leader does, look no further than the Nationwide Series race at Memphis. Clint Bowyer is leading the purse snatcher brigade and stands poised to claim the title in NASCAR’s second-tier series, but there is a lot going on in the event’s 50 car field.

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Perseverance the Specialty for Doug Taylor, No. 61 Team

Doug Taylor has been doing this for a long time. He fielded his first entry in the Nationwide (then Busch) series in 1994, and continued racing through the 1998 season. That was a banner year for Taylor as a car owner, as driver Kevin Lepage delivered the then-Doug Taylor Motorsports team a pole at Dover and a Busch win at the Bristol Motor Speedway. “We were able to average a 12th place starting spot and 11th place finish [in 1998],” recalls Taylor, who finished seventh in the owner’s championship that season. Fast forward ten years. With co-owner Charlie Shoffner and the same driver that scored him his only career win as an owner, Taylor returned to full-time Nationwide Series competition in '08 under the banner of Specialty Racing. And while the No. 61 car is not contending for wins, or even Top 10s just yet, the season can’t be considered anything short of a success.

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Beyond The Cockpit : Bill Elliott On NASCAR’s Future And His Present Challenges

Mike Neff: *You recently announced that you are retiring. Is it really going to be for good this time?* Bill Elliott: I never said I was quitting last time. But this time, I think I'm pretty much done. I might be like Brett Favre, Mark Martin, or Terry Labonte, though... Mike Neff: *Once you're done with driving, will you stay involved in the sport, either consulting or maybe even helping out Brian France with things that might help NASCAR as a whole?*

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Matt McLaughlin Mouths Off : Going Back To the Drawing Board

OK, let’s admit it. Something is wrong. It’s not that this year’s Cup racing has been mediocre. NASCAR fans--those fans that haven’t chosen to leave the sport--have come to accept mediocrity as the norm over the last few years. To be frank, this season as a whole has featured boring races though there has been occasional great races like the final laps at Kansas a few weeks back. The Chase was supposed to add some excitement to the season, particularly at the end of the year as NASCAR spars with the NFL, college football and the World Series for the attention of sports fans. With four races left to run, the Chase is arguably over. Jimmie Johnson is going to win it. We’re not going to head into Homestead with three or four drivers having a good shot at the Championship. Ironically, under the old points system, the battle for top spot would actually be closer, if still somewhat lopsided. From a fairness standpoint, Kyle Busch, the driver who has won the most Cup races this season, would be still be hanging on by his fingernails with a shot at the title after dominating much of the season.

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Fanning the Flames: Miscellaneous Questions As The Season Hits Its Stretch Run

*Q: Hi Matt. Do poles won due to a rainout in qualifying count as an actual pole won in a driver’s stats? There is no more Bud Shootout set by poles, so I don’t know if it matters. But for the sake of records, what’s the ruling? Thank you.* _— Bette Widnor_ *A:* Thanks for the question and the patience, Bette. The answer is no, poles awarded due to qualifying being canceled and the field being set by owner points are not credited to a driver’s career stats, nor did it qualify someone for the Bud Shootout under the old format.

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Reader’s Comment Inadvertently Reveals The Problem With Jimmie Johnson

If you come to this website looking for a bunch of happy, fluffy, feel good articles about NASCAR and some of its more colorful characters, my writings are probably not your first stop. Even if I do write about some happy, fluffy, feel good subject (albeit rare), it is still done in my usual, opinionated manner. There are a few reasons for this, not the least of which is that this column was basically born in a very opinionated, if not occasionally unruly, Midwestern racing tavern several years ago. With that type of beginning, you can see why fluffy is just not my style.

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Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans: Will Jimmie’s Chase March Yield Your Team Atlanta Gold?

The intermediate track-heavy run to the finish is underway this week, and the heavy reliance on downforce and the resultant "aero push" that comes from being in traffic will be prominent this weekend. Now that the race for the title is pretty much a three man battle -- with Carl Edwards barely within shouting distance -- the majority of playoff contenders are going to be pushing for wins the rest of the year. The Top 10 drivers in average finish at Atlanta are loaded with Chasers, which means that the potential for a non-Chase race winner is once again rather limited. There are some diamonds in the rough that aren’t too far back, though, so making the right midpack choices for your fantasy roster can pay off handsomely for gamers this weekend. In the meantime, Jimmie Johnson has been handed the trophy by almost every pundit on the planet who follows NASCAR. Can he live up to the expectations, or will a mistake drag him kicking and screaming back to the pack? And which teams are in the best position to become true fantasy gems up front? Read this week’s Picks ‘N’ Pans to see which drivers are the Peppiest of Boys for Atlanta this weekend.

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Did You Notice? … Who’s Making Fans Turn Away, Why Martinsville’s Lost, And Marc Davis Debuts

*Did You Notice?* … NASCAR’s TV ratings at Martinsville were down significantly this weekend, an overnight 2.9 as compared to a 3.3 in 2007? That low rating isn’t going to do the Virginia track any favors when it comes to whether it keeps a second date beyond the 2009 Cup season. Personally, it’s one of my favorite tracks on the circuit, a short track bullring that epitomizes racing the way it ought to be. But just like with other tracks that have lost dates through the years, NASCAR fans need to start putting their money where their mouth is – or in this case, their remote – before it’s too late.

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Racing And Politics: Not A Good Mix

Who will win the 2008 presidential election is still anybody's guess. But when it comes to NASCAR, who they _want_ to win isn't even in question these days. Considering the rash of “honorary” guests from John McCain’s presidential campaign team recently attending Sprint Cup events, the sanctioning body clearly is supporting the Republican Party ticket, and is willing to offer its services to their effort to win the White House. What NASCAR is serving up to their political party of choice is a captive audience of 100,000 motorsports fans that really came to watch a race, but are getting -- whether they want it or not -- a low-key partisan political rally as well. However, truth be told, the majority of fans in attendance have no objection to the not-so-subtle support of the Republican presidential ticket at the races.

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