Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2009 Samsung 500 at Texas

Things at Texas happen fast these days, leaving the margin of error slim to none on what’s become the sport’s speediest track. From Kyle Busch cutting a tire to Carl Edwards having trouble on pit road, too many of the sport’s biggest superstars discovered that answer too little, too late. The end result was a major shakeup in our poll this week, with our experts dropping no less than three drivers right out of the rankings. Luckily for Jeff Gordon, he already knew the dangers – 0-for-16 for his career in the Lone Star State entering Sunday – and was finally able to put the bad karma behind him in streaking to his first victory of 2009.

Holding a Pretty Wheel: How 5 Are Faring After 6: Looking at the 2009 Favorites So Far

The 2009 Sprint Cup season rolls into April, and while nothing is carved in the sand, let alone stone, things are starting to become a little clearer for several teams. While some are living up to preseason expectations, others are struggling to live up to them. I’m going to take a closer look at the seasons of five of our preseason favorites – and see where they shake down six races into the year.

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2009 Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville

With their bumping and banging for the lead on Sunday, Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson were able to make big gains up the Power Rankings ladder. But were they enough to push Jeff Gordon off the top spot? Meanwhile, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Burton were among those who took it on the chin at this short track. Read on to see how far they slid – and which new drivers drove their way up the list – in this week’s edition of the Frontstretch Power Rankings.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2009 Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Edition

What a race Sunday! The Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway gave fans the tight racing action they have been yearning for since before the season began. The close racing amongst competitors individually made the race well worth watching, as did the fact that some unexpected drivers had good runs on the tricky half-mile track. While several surprise drivers slid into the top 15 or 20, other expected contenders found themselves in holes early in the event, with little or no chance of digging out. Here are the HOT, WARM and COLD drivers this week, before the Cup Series breaks its short-track excursion and travels to Texas Motor Speedway this Sunday.

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2009 Martinsville Spring Race Recap

Jimmie Johnson ran down Denny Hamlin with 15 laps to go. He then moved the No. 11 car aside, with both cars getting sideways and smoking the tires before Johnson pulled ahead to take the lead. There’s nothing so wrong with the new NASCAR racing the sport’s oldest racetrack can’t fix it. Cars and drivers running side by side and nose to tail? Can I get a hallelujah, brothers and sisters?

Bubble Breakdown: Toyota Bubble Teams Struggle Mightily at Martinsville While Menard Sneaks In

The last remnants of the 2008 season have finally been cast by the wayside, as NASCAR now uses this year’s owner points in determining who has a guaranteed starting spot and who has to qualify on time. But as the drivers now outside of the Top 35 readied themselves to give it all they had at Martinsville in order to qualify for the race on Friday – it rained. So, the field was set according to the owner standings, sending the last four cars back to their shops while the top 43 lined up Sunday afternoon. Of the ones that remained, which drivers were able to race their way up into the Top 35 for the first time under the 2009 points standings? Read on in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown to see who moved up and who dropped out.

The Yellow Stripe: Taking It to the Next Level, Which of These 10 Drivers Will Win a Sprint Cup Championship?

The label of future Sprint Cup champion is liberally dispensed — but rarely achieved. In the 60 years of NASCAR competition, only 28 drivers have attained the hallowed crown – and it’s a pretty excusive club. 12 drivers have won a solitary championship, while another eight have won two titles. Five men – Jimmie Johnson, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, David Pearson and Lee Petty – have won three; Jeff Gordon owns four, while both the King and the Intimidator won a record seven apiece. I’m going to pick a number of current drivers and analyze their chances of winning a Sprint Cup championship at some point in the near (or far) future.

Running Their Mouth: 2009 Food City 500 at Bristol

Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR and all of 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 car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Bubble Breakdown: David Gilliland Drives TRG’s No. 71 Right Into Top 35

If you remember back to 2008, Jamie McMurray – a good driver on one of the super teams, Roush Fenway Racing – was not only sitting on the bubble heading to Bristol, but on the wrong side of it when he left there. It was proof even the best organizations could fall victim to having to qualify on speed. One year later, Ryan Newman and Mark Martin felt that same pressure, needing strong performances from their top-tier organizations to avoid what happened to McMurray last year. So, did Martin and Newman avoid being the big-name drivers on the outside looking in? And what underdog defied the odds to sneak into the Top 35? Read on to find out as we break down the bubble for the Food City 500 from Bristol Motor Speedway.

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