Recent Posts

Talking NASCAR TV: ESPN Finally Points The Camera Lens Beyond The Chasers

The Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte did not produce many exciting storylines besides the weekly plight of the Chasers. ESPN reported on the state of these drivers well, however, and also made a move in the race's first half that went above and beyond that coverage. As stated many times in this column and others like it, ESPN, TNT, and FOX each have struggled to cover both the racing action and those that exist outside the Top 10 in the running order -- unless the driver is one of NASCAR's biggest stars. Well, ESPN finally responded to those numerous complaints with a segment that addresses the problem.

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Sizing Up The Standings: What’s Left To Decide In 2008 For NASCAR’s Top Three Series

There are just 33 days left (and 14 races across all three series) in the 2008 NASCAR season, and we’re getting inexorably closer to the time of year the prizes are handed out. So, with a little over a month left in the season, let’s take a look at where things stand, post-Charlotte, in NASCAR's top three divisions. I’ll take a look at the likely champions, the potential Rookies of the Year, the manufacturers’ battle, as well as a few other “races” of a different type to see who’s going to win, who still can win with a little help and, in some cases, who’s already thinking about 2009.

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Running Their Mouth: 2008 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte

_Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all 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 the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway:_ "This is an awesome race track; it is so much fun racing here. Turning in to victory lane here is just an incredible feeling. I don't take anything for granted. Real proud of our guys. Everybody has been working really hard and putting a lot of effort in to it. We certainly want to put ourselves in position to win a championship, there is no question about that. Everybody keeps wanting to give somebody the trophy, you know what I mean and it is only half way through. It is not done yet. _Jeff Burton_

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With The Chase Halfway Done, Experience — Not Youth — Has Already Won

As one of the younger NASCAR writers on the beat, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding a changing of the guard in this sport. So early on, it came as no surprise I was ready to jump on board with a season in which Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards spent the Spring and Summer trading punches back and forth in their battle for Sprint Cup supremacy. A seemingly unstoppable force on the track and off it, one of the two appeared ready to rise as the first 20-something champion since Busch’s brother Kurt in 2004. And if that wasn’t enough, these men had personalities about as volatile as Mt. St. Helen itself. They didn’t like each other to the point they loved trading verbal barbs, and a title Chase between the two seemed destined for its own set of National Enquirer headlines. But as August turned into September, both men got busy figuring out the code needed to go from self-important to self-destruct. By September, it was Jimmie Johnson, not those two, which had the upper hand, carrying out this year’s playoffs to perfection in marking his territory across the Sprint Cup leaderboard. And with each passing week, we’ve discovered that the edge Johnson owned could suddenly be chalked up to both Carl Edwards’ and Kyle Busch’s major weakness: experience.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2008 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte

*The Key Moment:* Jeff Burton and Jimmie Johnson waged a spirited battle for a few laps after the final restart before points leader Johnson apparently decided discretion was the better part of valor. *In a Nutshell:* Wasn’t this new car supposed to end the era of cars up front with clean air on the nose running away from the field, with previously fast cars mired in traffic unable to pass anything but the time? Newsflash: It didn’t work. Film at 11. *Dramatic Moment:* There was some good racing back in the pack and after every restart, with track position so key and passing so difficult. The short-lived Burton / Johnson battle probably takes top honors. *What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week* Maybe they ought to add some *reverse light decals* to the rear of the 48 car because Jimmie Johnson seems to want to back his way into this championship.

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Ten Points to Ponder… After the 2008 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte

*Under The Radar* - Running amongst the leaders from the drop of the green, Jeff Burton, the veteran Richard Childress Racing racer, won the Bank of America 500 to score his second win of the season. A “splash-and-go” pit stop put Burton in the lead that he never relinquished, even after a dicey battle with points leader Jimmie Johnson. Burton has now moved into second in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings and only 69 points out of first with five races remaining. Could it be that after all the hoopla, the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion might be a guy that virtually no one bet on, has not had a physical altercation with anyone this year, is universally respected by fans and peers, rarely criticizes other drivers...and is never jeered by race fans?

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Where Have All The Rookies Gone? Sent Home By Idealistic Owners

The true rookie story of this race is about those drivers who were not here. Yes, some anticipated debuts were ruined by the weather, but it is not Keselowski, Clauson, or even Scott Speed that I am talking about. No, it is the dismissal of Patrick Carpentier and the continued sabbatical for Michael McDowell that disturbs me. I would really like to know what goes on inside the head of a Sprint Cup owner when they set expectations for a rookie driver with little to no experience at racing’s top level. I’m beginning to think that some team executives expect a driver to jump into the seat of a stock car for the first time and immediately race his way into the Chase.

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Bubble Breakdown: Scott Riggs, Michael Waltrip Securing Spots For Their Teams In Top 35

Lowe’s Motor Speedway was the venue Saturday night in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the running of the Bank of America 500. With just six races remaining in the '08 season, the bubble teams should now look at each race as a qualifying attempt for next year's Daytona 500. Struggling teams have trouble finding funding, and without a locked-in spot for the 2009 Daytona 500, or the next four races after it for that matter, attracting good sponsorship in a slow economy can be next to impossible. But don’t take my word for it; just give a call to the guys at Morgan-McClure Motorsports and ask them. There was a bit of an interesting story surrounding Lowe’s that didn’t seem to get any attention, probably because it involved back of the pack teams. A.J. Allmendinger was slated by Michel Waltrip Racing to drive the No. 00 Toyota at Lowe’s, just two weeks after being unceremoniously dumped by Team Red Bull. The No. 84 Red Bull Toyota previously driven by the 'Dinger sat just 56 markers ahead of MWR’s double zero team. How big of a smile would A.J. be sporting on his way out of Lowe’s if he were able to knock his former ride out of a Top 35 spot? So was the Dinger grinning after the Bank of America 500 Saturday night? Read on to find out in this week’s edition of the bubble breakdown.

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Nationwide Series Breakdown: 2008 Dollar General 300 at Charlotte

*In a Nutshell:* Joey Logano made a strong bid early, but Kyle Busch again dominated the Nationwide Series field, leading 137 laps to score a relatively easy win in Friday’s Dollar General 300 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Busch was briefly challenged in the race’s final laps by Jeff Burton, who, unlike the other leaders, opted for four tires on his final pit stop. Burton, however, was unable to make up enough ground on the high side to clear Busch’s No. 18. Busch’s win did not come without controversy. On several restarts, he appeared to stack up the field, leading to two major wrecks that eliminated half a dozen cars and caused a warning from NASCAR about picking up his speed coming to the green. The second crash, involving Mike Bliss and John Wes Townley, led members of Burton’s No. 29 crew to besiege NASCAR officials to black flag Busch’s No. 18. But Busch refused to take responsibility for any of the wrecks, insisting that he maintained a steady speed and that, as the leader, it was his discretion as to where to restart the race. Burton and third-place Brian Vickers both also suggested that the No. 18 brake-checked on late restarts.

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A Tale of Two Drivers: Will the Real Carl Edwards Please Stand Up?

On one side of the garage, there’s a driver who is thrilled when he wins and gracious when he’s not. He owns up when he causes something on track. He’s kind and funny with the fans, and has worked his butt off to get to the top level of the sport. He contends for championships and champions kids. Say hello and you’ll be rewarded with a bright smile. Elsewhere in the garage, there’s a driver who often acts surly and rude. He takes out a volatile temper with a racecar and makes moves on track that he doesn’t care if someone else gets taken out on the other end of. He makes snide remarks and some off the cuff statements that are downright scary. He has been known to shove another driver in the garage. I’m not talking about Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart. Nope, not Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch either. Or Junior and Kevin Harvick. I’m talking about Carl Edwards…and Carl Edwards. The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

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