NASCAR Race Weekend Central

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Bowles-Eye View: Teamwork at Hendrick? Jimmie Johnson Should Know Better

One final lap on NASCAR's fastest superspeedway. That's all that stood between a jubilant Jimmie Johnson and Victory Lane Sunday, a signature win destined to get him back in the championship Chase. For Brian Vickers running behind him, he could have seen an opportunity lying ahead, too - a chance to perhaps write his name on a Nextel Cup trophy for the first time in 107 starts. Either way, it looked like nothing could go wrong as the Hendrick cars, ranked second and third, barreled down the back straightaway at 200 mph, both with runs that would push them in front of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and clearly win the race for one of them.

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Frontstretch Breakdown: 2006 UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega

While attempting to make the pass on Junior for the lead, Brian Vickers bumped Jimmie Johnson from behind a little too hard and in the wrong place, clipping the No. 48 car in the right rear corner and sending Johnson straight into the No. 8 Chevrolet. Both cars spun out of harm's way down the back straightaway into Turn 3 while Vickers streaked by to take the checkered flag, his first Cup win in 107 career starts. Kasey Kahne streaked past the melee to take second, with Kurt Busch third, Matt Kenseth fourth, and Martin Truex Jr. collecting his first career top-five finish in fifth.

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Bubble Breakdown: Jeff Green Scores Big In Top-35 Battle While JJ Yeley’s Bad Luck Continues

Talladega was sporting a brand new racing surface Sunday as the Cup circuit returned to the longest track on the schedule. The new and improved asphalt track was smoother and faster than it had ever been, but the dangerous pitfalls of the sport's longest, fastest superspeedway still remained for those battling within the Top 35 in owner points. With the threat of the "Big One" around every corner combining with smaller restrictor plates to ensure speeds stayed under the "danger zone" of 200 mph, teams on the bubble were thrown so many curveballs they must have felt they were in the baseball playoffs.

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Tracking the Trucks: 2006 John Deere 250 at Talladega

Mark Martin scored his fifth win of the 2006 season Saturday afternoon in the John Deere 250, taking the checkered flag under caution over Mike Skinner after a wild four-truck wreck occurred on the race's final lap. Ted Musgrave, Todd Bodine and AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top five finishers in the first Truck race ever held at Talladega.

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Full Throttle: A Different Kind of Silly Season

There have always been forays by open wheel drivers into Cup racing. In the old days, AJ Foyt, Mario Andretti, Gordon Johncock, and Johnny Rutherford all made occasional starts in Cup cars. In recent years, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, and Ryan Newman all made the cross over from open wheel racing to stock cars. However, until now, there has never been a Formula 1 World Champion who has competed full time on the Cup circuit. That will all change next year.

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Race Trax: 2006 UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega

The UAW-Ford 500 is the 30th race on the 36-race NASCAR Nextel Cup Series schedule. The Cup Series visits the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway twice in 2006-Jimmie Johnson won here in May. The first Nextel Cup winner at Talladega was Richard Brickhouse, and the record for most wins (10) is held by Dale Earnhardt. Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads active drivers with five wins.

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Voices from the Heartland: New Wave of Racing Fever Surfaces in Small Town

This week's edition of Voices is taking a break from all things related to the Chase. The Chase, I have decided, will simply work itself out. The bottom line is this: someone will win. It happens every year (shockingly enough), and it won't be Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, or Kyle Busch that takes home the trophy. No... instead I'm going to talk about a different type of racing, a type catching steam in my very own hometown.

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Scanner Static: Kansas Puts On a Hall of Fame Show

The only track of similar size and shape to Kansas that I like better is Charlotte, and Kansas has supplanted Atlanta as No. 2 on my list. I think they do a great job there and the races are spectacular. This may have been the most exciting finish to a NASCAR race since Carl Edwards won in Atlanta. I agreed with the decision not to send the Hall of Fame to Kansas City, but it would be a criminal shame if this track is ever removed from the Chase lineup. Fortunately, I don't think that will happen.

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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.

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