NASCAR Race Weekend Central

No Bull: Yeah, California Stunk

I’m not going to try to sugarcoat that one. California was kind of boring.

OK, really boring.

You know what? I’m OK with that, simply because there aren’t going to be 36 good Cup races a year, and I’d much rather watch a boring race that takes less than 2 hours and 40 minutes to fins than a marathon race that takes four hours. I’ll sacrifice nodding off for a sore rear end from sitting too long.

While last year’s race at Auto Club Speedway was very good, this year’s boredom wasn’t totally unexpected from California. On the bright side, now we’ve got a whole year until the next race runs there.

5 Pts to Ponder: Edwards the Wise, Roush the Shorthanded & Dollars For Dillons

*ONE: Edwards Wise to Hold Out on Contract Talks*

When asked about renegotiating with Roush Fenway Racing, where he’s been the full-time driver of the No. 99 car since midway through the 2004 season, Carl Edwards played his cool. “We’ll just see how it plays out,” he said, noting that he didn’t want talk of contracts and the business side of the sport distracting him from a stellar 2011 campaign that has his Ford team sitting atop the Sprint Cup point standings.

Bubble Breakdown: Schrader Rebounds from Bristol Miscue while Smith Falters Again

All the hype of strong ticket sales for the race in Fontana fizzled, as the fans still chose to be some place other than at the track. For the first 190 laps of the race, I found it difficult to watch the race and struggled to stay awake. Fortunately, I did stay awake to see the final 10 laps and a fantastic finish.

After a rough weekend in Bristol for our underdog teams, hopes were high that the two mile track in Fontana would treat them better. Again this week the bubble drivers had a disappointing afternoon, but each were successful in staying out of trouble and bringing home a chassis with little damage.

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Royal Purple 300

The win will go down in the record books as belonging to Kyle Busch, but one Jason Ratcliffe deserved the trophy more than any other on this Saturday afternoon. For most of the 300 miles, Busch was a third-place car, unable to keep pace with the likes of Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick. But during the final green flag run to the checkers, Edwards and Harvick pitted early for four tires. That was the plan for Busch until he came to pit road for his final stop inside of 25 to go, when crew chief Ratcliffe audibled and called for two tires. The call was masterful; the yellow didn’t fly, and Busch won despite last lap contact with the turn 2 wall, his third victory in the first five races in 2011.

It was a compelling conclusion to one of the raciest Nationwide Series events the Auto Club Speedway has ever played host to. The high groove was available and used frequently throughout the event, with the multiple grooves providing for side-by-side racing for much of the afternoon.

Kenny Wallace Driver Diary: Top 10’s, A Car for the Fans, and a Benefactor

I was really disheartened about being involved in that wreck in Daytona. But I knew we were a top 10 car leaving Daytona, and I knew we had to have a good race at Phoenix to start building points. I went in with an open mind and feeling positive. We didn’t get the qualifying run we wanted-we were 18th-but I think we were pretty good. I thought the car was handling pretty good. They dropped the green flag and we went forward right away.

What was good was when they dropped the flag, we started picking off positions. It was a really clean race and we found ourselves running seventh to eighth.

Beyond the Cockpit: Dave Blaney on Going the Distance, Driver Development, More

_For the first time in a long time, Dave Blaney is trying to run the distance in the Sprint Cup Series. Working with Tommy Baldwin Racing, Blaney and crew continue to seek sponsor dollars to keep the No. 36 car on the track as much as possible. But for Blaney, that funding search goes even further, as he is also faced with the task of raising money for son Ryan, a development driver currently running in the PASS Late Model series. Frontstretch caught up with Blaney at Bristol to discuss his fundraising initiatives, short track racing and the season so far for the longtime veteran._

Bryan Davis Keith: *You’ve dealt with a tire situation throughout the weekend. Were they as bad as they were made out to be?*

Dave Blaney: They feel fine on the car, they just wear out too quick. So they’re going to take… preventive measures. There’s no issue with them, I don’t think. I really don’t know how they missed it. Goodyear usually does a good job coming with the right stuff where you don’t have to do this [changing tires over the course of a race weekend]. We’re going to throw a new set on for this final practice and hope that it doesn’t change anything too much. Slight bump in the road, that’s all.

Running Their Mouth: Jeff Byrd 500 at Bristol

_Welcome to Running Their Mouth! Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all of our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Sprint Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find: the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members, and car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what they all were thinking following the Jeff Byrd 500 (presented by Food City) at Bristol Raceway:_

Fantasy Insider: Get Rowdy at Bristol

_There is rarely a time in Sprint Cup racing where one or two organizations don’t seem to be a on a different playing field than the competition. Over the last 15 years or so, it has primarily been Hendrick Motorsports (Hendrick has won 10 of the last 16 series titles) and Roush Fenway Racing (two titles)._

_In 2011, it seems like the playing field has evened. Old dependables like Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick have been quite the opposite this year. They are great one week and off the next. Meanwhile, names like Paul Menard, Martin Truex Jr., Juan Montoya and A.J. Allmendinger are all ahead of the aforementioned drivers in the standings._

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