With the All-Star Race behind us, it’s back to points racing with one of NASCAR’s most prestigious and demanding events, the season’s only 600-mile race. Since its repaving, Lowe’s Motor Speedway has been home to fast and treacherous competition, with side by side in the corners proving next to impossible to control for drivers struggling with the handling of their racecars. A true test of man and machine, Sunday’s race will be a battle of attrition and adjustment as the track transitions from day to night. But just like Jeff Gordon’s back, the Frontstretch Fantasy Insider is ready to get your fantasy teams through 600 miles… and when our picks go three-wide, expect them to come out unscathed.
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 peek at what the drivers were thinking following the Southern 500 presented by GoDaddy.com at Darlington Raceway.
There aren’t many places where every driver, not just the rookies, is told “race the track, not the pack.” But that’s the only means of survival at Darlington Raceway, a unique combination of rim-riding and abrasive asphalt that’s among the most grueling 500-milers on the Sprint Cup circuit. The track itself may be Too Tough To Tame, but fantasy racing this egg-shaped circuit is no problem for the Frontstretch Fantasy Insiders. Read on to find out which drivers have the inside track to surviving the difficult track conditions they’ll face on Saturday night.
With Talladega in the rear-view mirror, the Sprint Cup Series turns to the cozier confines of Richmond International Raceway and good ol’ fashioned short tracking this week. But while the Series’ last downforce race at Phoenix offered a glimpse of who you’d expect to contend in Virginia’s capital, don’t discount what happened last Sunday. With more than half of the top 12 in the standings involved in wrecks, the wild-card race at Talladega certainly managed to throw a wrench into the momentum of some contenders. The “Big One” doesn’t discriminate whenever it chooses its victims … and the hangover from those nasty crashes can last a couple of weeks if teams aren’t careful. With that in mind, who’s ready to vault towards fantasy perfection at the track many call perfect for racing? Short-tracking on a Saturday night is always cause to put a smile on race fans’ faces… and with the help of the Frontstretch Insiders, this weekend will be all the more enjoyable for you and your fantasy lineup.
Jeff Gordon’s large winless streak came to an end Sunday in Texas – where everything is big. But while Gordon had a giant weight lifted off his shoulders, other drivers felt huge swings in the points. Greg Biffle gained eight spots in the standings after his third-place Texas run, while Mark Martin’s sixth-place finish gained him nine positions. AJ Allmendinger’s ignition issues relegated him to a 34th-place finish and lost him five spots in the points, while Kevin Harvick and Michael Waltrip each lost four places after lousy runs. Inside the top 12, most drivers changed at least one spot, with Matt Kenseth leading the charge, climbing three spots to ninth after running fifth in Texas. Gordon also is seeing his points lead stretch, as you will find out in this week’s list of HOT, WARM and COLD drivers.
That Junior has visited victory lane far less than expected since his joining Hendrick Motorsports has been, to say the least, a grain of sand in the Junior Nation oyster. And everyone has a theory why the winless streak continues – from too many off-track distractions to an inadequate crew chief to the ever-comical “he’s driving the R&D car,” as if Rick Hendrick paid millions to hire the most popular driver in NASCAR to test brake setups. Proud members of the anti-Junior Nation gleefully suggest that Earnhardt is simply a mediocre driver. So what’s the real answer?
Everything’s bigger in Texas, they say, and the Texas Motor Speedway certainly is considerably larger than the short tracks the Cup circuit has tackled these last few weeks. With the pending return to an intermediate oval, expect speeds to go up and the margin for error in race setups to go down. But with the help of Frontstretch’s Fantasy Insiders, you’ll adjust in time to be firing the six-shooters in your fantasy leagues come Sunday.
For a driver who has never had Bristol figured out in the past, Jimmie Johnson looked like he hit on something this time around. Johnson led 88 laps and looked comfortable with the Bristol confines even though a late-race pit miscue cost him a chance at the win. To Johnson and the No. 48 team, it must have felt like one anyway.
After a re-energizing weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the Cup Series heads to its fastest track for a 500-miler, driving on asphalt that rivals even Darlington in terms of abrasiveness. Atlanta Motor Speedway is a unique intermediate circuit, one that is largely dependent on handling and a driver willing to move all over the racetrack. With differing characteristics than Las Vegas and Fontana, it’s a quad-oval quagmire that forces you to make some major changes to your 1.5-mile lineup. But players, don’t despair – Frontstretch’s Fantasy Insiders are going to give you the lowdown on who to choose and who to chastise, avoiding those pesky engine woes in the process to help you rim-ride to a fantasy W this weekend.
The first few weeks of the 2009 Sprint Cup season have done much to fuel speculation of whether some different teams and new faces that are currently in the top 12 in points can stay there. The next few weeks will prove pivotal in determining whether teams that were once thought a lock to make the Chase can do so, or if they will continue to flail and flounder, while other opportunistic new comers – and some long dormant veterans – can make a charge to contend for races and a title in 2009. While the mighty have fallen more than once so far this year, there have been more than a few standing by, willing, ready, and able to take advantage of the situation. Let’s take a look at a few of the big surprises so far this year.