Race Weekend Central

What’s Vexing Vito: Ousting a Veteran Driver at His Best Track for an Unproven Rookie: Par for the Course in NASCAR

It was announced this week that 2000 Winston Cup champion Bobby Labonte was going to be replaced, in effect, by Roush Fenway Nationwide Series driver Erik Darnell in seven of this year’s final 12 races. It was the latest turn in a saga which saw Labonte start 2009 as the latest wheelman of the No. …

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Mirror Driving: Montreal to Cup?, Atlanta Angst & Where Have All The Rookies Gone?

The Nationwide Series ran a wild and crazy race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Sunday, with rain tires and a roller-coaster running order jumbling up the finish. Was the competition overall better than last year, and is this a venue where NASCAR should explore sending the Cup teams at this point?

Bowles-Eye View: Is Erik Darnell’s Best Chance Bobby Labonte’s Last Hurrah?

We always seem to want athletes to retire on their own terms in this country. Just like what we expect in our own line of work, past achievements and personal respect should combine for a lifetime of immunity, putting someone in position to make their own choice about when to walk away from the sport …

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Thompson in Turn 5: Joey Logano – No One Is Better Than Joe Gibbs at Picking a Winner

If it appears that the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota driven by rookie Joey Logano has become increasingly more visible in recent weeks, it is because he’s begun to emerge from the back of the pack and become more of a weekly contender. Perhaps no driver entered the country’s top stock car series with higher …

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2009 CARFAX 400 at Michigan Edition

What a weekend for Brian Vickers! After winning poles in both the Nationwide and Cup series at Michigan International Speedway, Vickers scored his second career Cup win on Sunday and came close to scoring the sweep Saturday in the NNS race. Now within 12 points of the Chase, Vickers’s place in this week’s column is no surprise. But with fuel mileage on the minds of many, the MIS race saw a team or two use their gas tanks to keep the momentum going, while several others saw their August success run dry before the checkered flag. Here are this week’s HOT, WARM and COLD drivers following the 400-miler.

Thompson in Turn 5: There’s Just Something About Monday Races at Pocono

The only disappointment for race fans this week should be that the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 was rescheduled for Monday due to rain, resulting in many NASCAR loyalists to miss the live broadcast of the event. That’s because – wouldn’t you know it – there was finally a good stock car race at Pocono …

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2009 Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Edition

This Monday’s race wasn’t half bad, considering it was held at Pocono and it was a Monday holdover (or rain check, if you want to call it that). Much like the Richmond and Darlington races of this spring, the 500-miler had a little bit of everything. There were wrecks, not too many and not too few cautions, lots of position-changing, a couple of come-from-behind efforts, an on-track rivalry, a breakthrough win, and an emotional victory lane celebration. That is a lot more drama than recent past Pocono races have provided. All that being said, here are this week’s HOT, WARM and COLD drivers of the week.

Bowles-Eye View: Don’t Let Pocono Rain On Your Parade – Some Sunday Highlights From The Track

While Pocono’s 500-miler was pushed back a day, the rain couldn’t do the same to my deadline. So while I’d love to write on the race itself, instead I started this Sunday night staring at a blank page after “start your engines” became “stop those weepers!” That left us with hours upon hours of driver …

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What’s Vexing Vito: Unsolicited Opinions on Things You Haven’t Thought About Until Now

In this space each week, I usually wax poetic – or manic – depending on your view, on some topic that has been, by this point in the week, completely beaten to death and rehashed to the point that you probably can’t fire off a letter to me quick enough, asking that habeas corpus be …

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2009 Driver Report Cards, Part II: Grading Dale Jr. & The Rest

Continuing on from yesterday’s review, it’s time for Professors Danny and Tom to grade those drivers sitting at the back of the class. Whether it’s some bad racing luck, poor chemistry with a crew chief, or just plain awful driving, most of these guys from 21st on back have endured a season they’d like to forget. As the upcoming summer stretch heats up, those unlucky enough to be a part of this list won’t be fighting to make the Chase; instead, they’ll be working to save their jobs, explaining to unhappy sponsors and owners how things didn’t go as planned. But in the midst of this group are a handful of diamonds in the rough, wheelmen overachieving with single-car teams overmatched from the start against the multi-car powerhouses. Just which of these underdogs stood out above the rest? Read below to find out as our two-part midseason report card series comes to a close.

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