Race Weekend Central

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2012 Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas

What a mess. That’s what several teams were left thinking after the wreckfest that was the Hollywood Casino 400. A track-record and season-high 14 cautions marred the racing over the course of the 400-mile event, caused by everything from a rash of blown tires, a couple of driver errors at the wrong time, a move made in anger, and a very slick repaved racetrack. “If people are wondering where all the cautions went, they moved to Kansas,” Brad Keselowski said at one point during the day, referencing complaints about a lack of yellow flags during several events this season.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2012 Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega

Although qualifying doesn’t matter much at Talladega, you might think that winning the pole would make for a less stressful day. Not so for Kasey Kahne, who ran out of gas under green-flag conditions and got shuffled all over the place during the event. Then, things only went from bad to worse; he got a windshield full of Stewart’s undercarriage in the last-lap mayhem as Stewart landed on top of his car. Just like that, Kahne was relegated to a 13th-place finish.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2012 LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at Loudon

Loudon is one of those racetracks, like Darlington, where the view from inside is vastly different from what you see on TV. With the tight confines in the corners, there is nearly always some hard racing somewhere. Plus, it’s one of those tracks that separate the best from the rest because it’s one of the most difficult on the circuit, and the driver is a more important part of the equation than at most tracks, which is something most fans have said they want. It’s a unique track, a flat mile, vastly different from the other two mile tracks on the schedule, Phoenix and Dover. Since renovations several years ago, there is passing.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2012 Quaker State 400 at Kentucky

The big double take of the weekend came after Friday night’s Nationwide Series race. The winner’s interview with rookie Austin Dillon, who dominated the event, was over and all seemed well for Richard Childress Racing and his iconic No. 3 car. That is, of course, until a NASCAR spokesperson picked up the microphone a few moments later. Usually, that speaker is just a formality – the sanctioning body assures the media that everyone has cleared postrace inspection. But Friday night, NASCAR announced a major issue: Dillon’s No. 3 was found too low in the rear. Penalties are likely. Except, perhaps, the one penalty that should come down.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2012 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma

While Clint Bowyer was holding off all comers for the win, his Michael Waltrip Racing teammates were having a strong race of their own, solidly in the top 10. Although Martin Truex Jr. got caught in a late-race traffic jam that forced him off the road and into 22nd place after leading 15 laps early on, it was Brian Vickers who really shined in just his third Cup race of 2012. Vickers drove his way through the field from a 21st-place starting spot, inserting himself into the top 10 and then the top five, muscling past Jimmie Johnson in the late laps to take home a fourth-place finish.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2012 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

One thing about the Coca-Cola 600 is that either the cream rises to the top and the top finishers are exactly who you’d expect them to be, or it comes down to fuel strategy and there are some unexpected numbers on the pylon. Sunday’s race was one of the former, and the nine drivers who finished on the lead lap were no surprise. But one driver and his team tried a strategy play, staying out on the final caution of the night. If there had been one more yellow flag in the race, it would have netted Landon Cassill a top-10 finish. For Cassill, who has struggled with newcomer BK Racing to earn a Top-35 points position, a top 10 would have been huge.

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