NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Matt McLaughlin Mouths Off: “Silly Season” is Actually a Very Serious Matter

The term “Silly Season” implies much joy and frivolity, sort of like a middle school dance that pays really well. Fans, for the most part, seem endlessly fascinated by the latest “Silly Season” rumors, as witnessed by the success of Jayski’s site that contains that very phrase. As a fan as well as a writer, I am not immune to finding the latest rumor, gossip, and deliberate mistruths spread by agents trying to advance their clients’ futures — but I’ve also seen the dark side of the carnival. In what amounts to a huge game of musical chairs, some drivers and team members end up losing big, finding themselves still standing without a place to sit when the music stops. These are real people with real dreams, aspirations, obligations, and families who — having once been in the Big Top — find themselves abruptly tossed from the circus like a shovelful of elephant crap.

Did You Notice? Reed Sorenson Could Be Casey Atwood, Part II, & 2 Teams Better Than 1 for the Big 4

Did You Notice? That sneaky suspicion that Reed Sorenson’s move to Gillett Evernham Motorsports equals the second coming of Casey Atwood? In light of the official announcement Sorenson’s headed to GEM, I can’t stop thinking about the comparison between the two.

Thompson in Turn 5: Edwards & Busch… Like Mayfield & Earnhardt

The bump-and-run maneuver — as demonstrated by Carl Edwards Saturday night in the Sharpie 500 at Bristol to gain the win — is without a doubt the sorriest, most low-rent passing tactic in the book. The maneuver requires very little skill, but lots of brashness coupled with minimal regard for sportsmanship. However, for only the second time in over 40 years of following the sport of stock car racing, I applaud the culprit and simply write it off as poetic justice.

Holding a Pretty Wheel: What Owners Should Expect From Drivers & What Expectations Go Too Far

A couple of weeks back, I wrote about which drivers I might like to have should I own a race team. That kind of got me thinking about some of the things that teams owners face, and it was about then that I decided that I never, ever want to own a race team. A couple of things came up that gave me pause, though. First, a debate on our own message boards about what makes a driver ready for a Cup ride has been floating around. Then the lawsuit that Dale Earnhardt Inc. filed against former crew chief Doug Richert brought to light some interesting clauses that that company puts in their contract. Which got me to thinking… what IS fair for a car owner to expect from his or her employees?

Mirror Driving: Fuel-Mileage Snooze, What Did Roush Lose?, & Grading Rain Tires

Sunday’s race at Pocono once again came down to fuel mileage. It seems that this has been the case this year more often with the smaller fuel cell NASCAR now mandates. Should NASCAR go back to the larger cell, or is there another solution?

10 Points to Ponder… After The Off Week

1. Belt Tightening – It is a safe bet that not all the economic dominoes have fallen for the NASCAR community quite yet, as financially slumping General Motors attempts to identify cost-cutting measures while seeking to generate $15 billion in savings through 2009. This past week, the automaker has informed both Bristol Motor Speedway and New Hampshire International Speedway that they will not renew promotional agreements with them for 2009 and beyond, and rumors persist further cuts will be forthcoming within their motorsports program. Oh, well… before you get all upset, remember it isn’t just NASCAR “fat cats” feeling the GM pinch.

Did You Notice? Kyle Busch Throws Away the Win, NASCAR’s Discrimination Lawsuit Stalemate & Jeremy Mayfield: MIA

Did You Notice? That in the wake of Kyle Busch’s scuffle with Juan Pablo Montoya in New Hampshire, nobody’s realizing that Busch shouldn’t have been back there in the first place? At the time of the lap 273 caution, Busch was the highest-ranking driver amongst the group of cars that had stopped just 54 laps before. But while the rest of those teams stayed on the racetrack, Busch darted down pit lane for an extra splash of fuel – costing him what would have been an almost certain victory.

The Yellow Stripe: Drought Busters – Who’s Gone the Longest Without a Trip to Victory Lane?

Over the last couple of years Dale Earnhardt Jr. suffered his own version of an epic drought, as NASCAR’s most famous son hadn’t won a race for more than two whole seasons. While Earnhardt finally got his win — a fuel-mileage triumph at Michigan on June 15th — the streak lasted for a stretch of some 76 races, or 404 days for those so mathematically inclined. It’s fair to say the “Dale Jr. Drought” did not have the financial and societal effects of the Dust Bowl, but for those caught up in both — the workers so graphically depicted in Steinbeck’s tome and Junior Nation — it must have felt, for a while at least, as if it was never going to end. But end both did; and surprisingly enough, in each case the world continued to revolve safely on its axis.

Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Sam Hornish Jr. Continues Momentum at the Monster Mile

The Rookie of the Year race remained tight coming out of Dover, as Sam Hornish Jr. overcame a lap 68 pit road speeding penalty to record his second consecutive top-20 finish — continuing to capitalize on momentum achieved following two weeks at Lowe’s. Hornish and crew chief Chris Carrier would make several adjustments throughout the event, as they tried to keep up with a car that fluctuated between loose and tight during long green flag runs. But even as both the track and the Penske Truck Rental Dodge would undergo several changes, the driver remained cool, calm and collected, as Hornish never fell far from his 16th-place starting position. In the end, the freshman crossed the finish line in 18th position for his fifth top finishing rookie honor of the year.

10 Points to Ponder… After the 2008 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

1. Rumba, Anyone? – Two-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves — better known to the general public as last year’s winner of the mega hit TV show “Dancing With The Stars” — seems to be interested in following such open-wheel standouts as Juan Pablo Montoya, Sam Hornish Jr., Dario Franchitti, Patrick Carpentier, and AJ Allmendinger into the NASCAR ranks. However, the Brazilian initially refuted a Los Angeles Times story published last week that reported he was interested in talking to Penske Racing, whom he drives for in the IRL, about a move to their NASCAR operation. “I did not understand much,” Castroneves said of the journalist writing the story. “I found my English is apparently getting worse. [They] definitely took it out of context.”

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