NASCAR Race Weekend Central

2009 Driver Report Cards, Part I: Grading the Chase Contenders

We’re one race past the statistical halfway point of the 2009 season and as we gear up for the stretch run of 17 Sprint Cup races in 18 weeks, the much maligned (and in equal parts ballyhooed) “Chase for the Sprint Cup” is just seven races away. So before we get down to the serious business of the sharp end of the season, we’ve graded each of the top 40 drivers – based on the points standings as we run headed to the Brickyard. We’ve divided our review into two halves; today, we focus on the top 20 drivers while tomorrow we’ll look at the wheelmen running in positions 21 through 40. Some of these grades will seem just right to you, others a country mile off. But no matter what you think, let us know what you agree with, what you don’t, and why below…

Leading off, it’s “owner/driver” Tony Stewart, a moniker he’s taken well to, it seems.

2009 Rookie Midseason Grades: Who’s Better, Keselowski, Logano or… Ambrose?

The Sprint Cup Series marked the season’s halfway point with an “off week” shortly thereafter, which gives Professor Lumbis a chance to take a breath and evaluate this year’s crop of rookies. It certainly has been an odd season for the 2009 freshman class, as we’ve seen wins, DNQs, “bubble trouble,” and even outside Chase …

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Kevin Harvick’s Gamble Pays Off for Kyle Busch in 2009 Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 at Gateway

There are a few things that one can usually count on when the Nationwide Series comes to Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis; hot weather, a Wallace or two (or three) will be racing and a long green-flag run sometime during the race. Last Saturday night’s presentation of the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 at GIR …

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What’s Vexing Vito: Daytona Destruction Slices & Dices Chase Field – Who Will Be In & Who Will Be Out Come September?

Last Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona could very well prove to be lynch pin in the 2009 Sprint Cup season for several drivers. For all of the talk about how Bristol is a wildcard leading up to the Chase, or how Talladega is unpredictable and could single handedly determine the champion, Daytona did all …

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Bubble Breakdown: Part-Time Schedule Yielding Big-Time Results for Furniture Row Racing

Rain washed out qualifying for Daytona last Friday, meaning the field was set by owner points. This was not good news for our bubble drivers, as the teams outside the Top 35 not only had to start at the rear of the field – they also had to do so in their qualifying setup, as …

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Rookies Run Well, But Only Marcos Ambrose Sealed the Deal in Daytona

While their finishes may not show it, all the rookies and almost rookies had impressive runs during the Coke Zero 400. Joey Logano continues to look more and more comfortable behind the wheel of these racecars, and he especially appears to be getting the hang of restrictor-plate racing. Of course, a little luck doesn’t hurt either. Logano was at the right place at the right time, which allowed him to miss two wrecks on Saturday. And even when Logano was in the wrong place at the wrong time, it could not have come at a better time – the very end of the race. When he is able to shed the yellow stripe next year and perhaps earn a dancing partner or two, Logano will certainly be a force at the superspeedways for years to come.

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