Hello, race fans. First off, I’m sorry that it’s Thursday and you’re just getting the chance to read this critique. The rainout on Sunday has played havoc with our typical weekly schedule here at Frontstretch, with articles having their days switched up and some pieces being swapped between the website and the newsletter and vice …
Rain forced the postponement of Sunday’s race until Monday afternoon, meaning there will be no bubble chatter this week as I had to work and therefore wasn’t able to listen to the in-car radio communications during the event. I tried to get out early, but when I asked my boss if I could leave early …
One of the fans’ biggest complaints after Michigan was that, again, it was a fuel-mileage race. Is there anything NASCAR can do to change the fact that many races come down to how much gas is in the tank?
It only took three races for Tony Stewart to put a Chevrolet back in victory lane. After posting runner-up finishes in both the Budweiser Shootout and Gatorade Duels, Stewart’s first ride with Hendrick Motorsports landed Smoke back in the winner’s circle, collecting the eighth Nationwide Series victory of his career and his fourth in the last five years at Daytona. Unlike last year, though, which saw Stewart’s No. 20 Toyota all but untouchable, this one was far from a sure-fire thing. Though Stewart was a mainstay in the top 10 all day, it was not until late in the running that he got his No. 80 up front.
Just as the Daytona 500 brings stock car racing roaring back to life, it also marks the beginning of the 2009 season for hundreds of thousands of fantasy racers across the country. And just as every driver in the 500 field needs a strong finish this Sunday to kick off their campaigns, every fantasy racer wants to get a jump on their competition the first weekend of the season. Picking a restrictor-plate race is never easy – but Frontstretch’s own Bryan Davis Keith and Mike Neff are nonetheless going to bump-draft you to the front of your respective leagues.
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.
A defining race like Sunday’s slugfest at Talladega Superspeedway is only as important to those viewing it as the network covering the broadcast allows it to be. If details are left out or if the excitement factor is either too hyped or not ratcheted up enough, then the whole complexion of a race can turn out differently. ESPN did a pretty good job telling Sunday’s story on a macro level; but the ever-changing small details were the ones that often fell through the cracks.
In a sure sign that life moves pretty fast and I’m getting older by the day, we’re down to just seven races to go before the crowning of the inaugural NASCAR Nationwide Series champion. I feel like it was only yesterday that I wrote a “Nuts for Nationwide” column entitled “Four down, 31 to go.” And yet here we are at the very sharp end of the season with just a handful of races left on the schedule. This weekend, the drivers of the second series get a well-earned break and one final chance to juice up their engines for the stretch run. Both the top two drivers in the second series, Clint Bowyer and Carl Edwards, will instead concentrate on what you could term their “day jobs” at the Sprint Cup level with each man itching to make solid starts to their respective Chase campaigns. So with a momentary pause at the Nationwide level, let’s take a look at the top 10 drivers in the current standings.
It’d be kind of ironic — given that I wrote a column on driver marketability a few weeks ago — if the topic had been shot to the forefront of the sport, wrapped around what is probably close to the last of the major teams’ driver signings. Yet, that’s exactly what happened when Penske Racing South made David Stremme the official driver of the No. 12 Dodge for 2009 and beyond, a move that might at least score them the award for Worst Kept Secret of the Year. And, despite being long rumored, the move still surprises me — because Penske could have done better.
Friday night was the night Clint Bowyer was looking for. After enduring weeks of poor-handling racecars and seeing his points lead diminish, Bowyer and the No. 2 team found themselves amongst the class of the field. By lap 106, they took the lead and never looked back… that is, until lap 227.
Bowyer — in the lead with no surrounding lapped traffic — got loose exiting turn 1 and slipped up the racetrack, opening the door for Brad Keselowski. Finishing off a charge to the front from his 37th starting spot, Keselowski flew by Bowyer and led the remainder of the race, scoring his second Nationwide Series win of the season and of his career.