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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans: 2006 UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Edition

The Cup Series heads to Alabama this Sunday for a run on the newly paved 2.66-mile tri-oval that is Talladega Superspeedway. With new asphalt and restrictor plate engines, every team is going to be holding their breath for 500 miles, hoping they can be in the right place at the right time and avoid the Big One. Simply put, this is the week where it is better to be lucky than good.

Becca’s Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2006 Banquet 400 at Kansas

This week, I had to laugh when the TV broadcast flashed the “Team Chevy Winning Moment” banner across the bottom of the screen. The accompanying picture was not a burnout or a victory lap, but simply the No. 20 car being pushed to pit road by the No. 11. Stewart won at Kansas fair and square, but it was rather anti-climactic heading to the checkered flag, as both the first- and second-place finishers coasted across the finish line out of gas.

Thompson in Turn 5: Diversity the Road to NASCAR’s Future Growth

Growth is the primary goal for any American enterprise, and NASCAR is the epitome of an American business. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that, when you look at this year’s TV ratings, NASCAR’s popularity has not grown one bit… if anything, it’s actually declined. Ratings are down in all but two races this season, and it appears fans are looking for some new energy to rejeuvenate their interest in the sport.

That’s History: 5 Years to 1 Blaise… & Gone

Blaise Alexander, just 25 years old, passed away on Oct. 4th, 2001, after injuries sustained in an accident in that night’s ARCA EasyCare 100. Good friend Kerry Earnhardt was racing the young man hard for the win with three laps to go when his car touched Alexander’s No. 75, sending it into the retaining wall beyond turn four even as Earnhardt’s car was sliding on its roof toward the tri-oval. That slam into the concrete was all it took – in the blink of an eye, racing lost an up-and-coming star, and the sport lost another shred of innocence that had not been taken by the other losses – Adam, Kenny, Tony, Dale – that were still fresh in our minds.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Nextel Cup: 2006 Banquet 400 at Kansas Edition

Jimmie Johnson was blowing by the competition and looked to be heading for a win that could have got him back in the title hunt, but Tony Stewart calmly came in and stole the Banquet 400 win away with a little extra fuel. The late-race fuel-mileage gamble left plenty of other Chasers looking for gas – and answers – at the end of the day, in the midst of several other spinouts and mechanical issues that threatened to doom their title hopes.

Doin’ Donuts: Fuel Tank Read Empty for Jeff Gordon, But Racing at Kansas was Full Steam Ahead

In the high-pressure world of the Chase, one can understand an engine failure like Kevin Harvick’s last week, where a team is pushing its equipment to the cutting edge to gain any advantage they can. But for a fuel pump to fail on Jeff Gordon’s car… how is that possible?

Bowles-Eye View: Pessimistic Mark Martin Still Hanging Around

With Jeff Burton finally ending a 175-race winless streak at Dover last weekend, he became the ninth of 10 Chase drivers fighting for this year’s title to visit victory lane this season. The monkey finally off his back, the victory left only one man with a goose egg in the win column beside his name entering Kansas. Is it a surprise to anyone that man was Mark Martin?

Frontstretch Breakdown: 2006 Banquet 400 at Kansas

In the wildest race in Kansas Speedway’s six-year history, Tony Stewart’s Home Depot Chevrolet coasted out of fuel for the final half-lap of the race, yet still managed to beat out Casey Mears to the line to win Sunday’s Banquet 400. Mears, who ran out of gas himself coming to the checkers, came home second, with Mark Martin third and Dale Jarrett fourth on fuel mileage gambles.

Bubble Breakdown: Elliott Sadler’s Pit-Road Bobble Costs Him in Top 35; Sterling Marlin Pads Lead Over Kyle Petty

Unfortunately, in the battle for the Top 35, the race was basically running on empty. Only two drivers moved up or down in the standings in our bubble watch, simply changing positions with each other. Still, there were several drivers who put themselves in better positions after Sunday’s action. Let’s take a closer look.

Frontstretch