NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Fanning the Flames: Kurt Busch Delivers, Herman is Saved, & A Season Finale At…Bristol?

In this very column two weeks ago, I gave Kurt Busch a pretty hard time. His Pocono Victory Lane celebration, with its scripted victory speech and fake beer swigging, was not only pre-meditated, it was downright fake. So to be fair, I must acknowledge that Kurt’s straight-up rundown of the last 100 laps and compulsory ‘Thank Yous’ at Michigan were well done.

In short: You drove one helluva race, Kurt, and – by ditching the forced pitchman routine – you scored mucho points with the casual fan by simply being yourself. And the fact that you actually opened the beer bottle before you took a swig was almost, dare I say it?, Junior-esque.

Voice of Vito: Kurt Busch Making a Case For Legitimate Title Contender… Turning Bud Fans Blue In The Process

With only three races remaining before the 2007 Chase for the Championship begins, the question of who will be the final qualifier for the 10-race playoff became a little more clear on a foggy and soggy Tuesday afternoon in Brooklyn, Michigan. For the second time in three races, Kurt Busch drove the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger to Victory Lane, in a performance that, while not nearly as dominating as his win two weeks earlier at Pocono, was convincing nonetheless that a playoff push has come ever closer to paying off.

Thompson in Turn 5: Michigan Fans Should Be The Big Story

The biggest story at Michigan International Speedway yesterday was the unbelievable loyalty and perseverance exhibited by the race fans who came to the track on Sunday morning and were still around at the conclusion of the 3M Performance 400 on Tuesday afternoon. That the grandstands appeared to be at least half full is a testament to the fact that NASCAR enjoys a fanbase second to none in professional sports. Having experienced rainouts firsthand, I know there are hundreds of individual stories by those that slept in their cars, waded through ankle deep mud, subsisted on junk food and remained generally uncomfortable during the two-day rain delay. And for some, their sacrifices to be in attendance for the race amounts to more than just physical discomfort, as many even ran the risk of straining their relationships with husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends and employers. But for them it seemed worth it as they are racing fans!

5 Points to Ponder… After the 2007 3M Performance 400 at Michigan

1. Weather Woes – What if it rains again Tuesday and the race can’t be held? NASCAR says that the Michigan race would tentatively move to the end of the schedule and would be held on Thanksgiving weekend, making it the final race of the year. The New Hampshire race on September 16th would become the final “regular season” race, and the first Chase race would be Dover on September 23rd. There is still an outside chance that NASCAR could try to run the race on Wednesday, however.

Mirror Driving: We Need a Week Off, A Lack of Talent in the Busch Pool & Feeding Off The Craftsman Truck Series

The possibility of a race between the July off-week and the Chase being rained out is very real. Changing the Chase to accommodate that race is an expensive process, and very costly to both NASCAR and Homestead-Miami Speedway-is that just part of the game, or does NASCAR need to revise the schedule or the rulebook to accommodate this possibility?

Running Their Mouth: 2007 3M Performance 400 at Michigan Rain Delay

Each week, we’ll go through all the media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Nextel Cup race to capture 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 during the rain delays for the 3M Performance 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Full Throttle: Junior’s Stepmother & the State of the Sport Spoils the Happy Ending For the No. 8

It was announced this week that the No. 8 will be staying at DEI for the foreseeable future, and therefore will not be on the side or roof of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car next year when he begins driving for Hendrick Motorsports. Much to the disappointment of Riki Rachtman and the majority of Junior’s legion of fans, an agreement could not be reached between DEI and Hendrick Motorsports that would allow the number to be transferred over to Hendrick so that Junior might be able to continue driving with the number for at least the next five years of his career. According to Junior, the stumbling block in the entire process was his stepmother, Teresa Earnhardt. Try as he might, it appears that Junior is going to be haunted by his stepmother for at least the rest of this season.

Matt McLaughlin Thinks Out Loud: Is It the Rider or His Horse?

In horse racing, they say it is the jockey that matters but even the best can’t win on a pack mule. As it becomes more and more likely that the Joe Gibbs Racing teams will switch to Toyota Camrys next year, you have to wonder just how many millions of dollars are being thrown around behind the scenes for Gibbs even to consider such a radical move. Gibbs latest acquisition, Kyle Busch, has complained out loud that he is unpopular with many fans because they aren’t giving him a fair break. (That’s a valid argument to a point, but in fact, it is Busch’s antics on and off the track that have caused many folks to write him off as a horse’s ass.) My guess is driving a Toyota isn’t going to endear him to even the most open minded fans. Of course, maybe Busch will be the first to win a race in a Camry and he’ll say afterwards, “These cars still suck”. I’d buy him a beer if he does.

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