NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Mirror Driving: NASCAR’s Red-Flag Fiasco, Gordon’s Great Start &Which Small Teams Can Survive?

NASCAR had an up and down weekend in Las Vegas. There were three red flags during the Nationwide race, but none in the Sprint Cup Series event the following day despite several late crashes. Should NASCAR have thrown the red when Paul Menard pounded the wall with 17 laps to go, or was keeping the cars under caution the right thing to do?

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2009 Shelby 427 at Las Vegas

The Jewel in the Desert offered up some fast and furious competition on Sunday, with the Shelby 427 perhaps taking its place as the most competitive racing yet out in Las Vegas. In the end, the 1.5-mile oval took a rather unexpected toll on some motors, a more expected one on some nerves, and turned the Power Rankings into chaos with a ton of late-race wrecks and pit strategy. Once the smoke cleared and the gambling stopped, our experts had clearly finished major surgery just three weeks into our Power Rankings season. Matt Kenseth’s last-place finish was enough to catapult him from the top spot in the poll; but was Kyle Busch’s victory enough to put him number one? Or, did Jeff Gordon’s consistency allow him to swipe the top spot along with the Sprint Cup points lead? Read on to find out these answers and more, as the experts sort out if your driver hit the jackpot or rolled snake eyes in this week’s Top 15 rankings.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2009 Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Edition

The first three races of 2009 have yielded surprising results at the top of the bottom of the points standings. Some drivers, like Mark Martin, are left scratching their head after having fast cars at each race, but no finishes to show for that. Likewise, teams like Michael Waltrip Racing in the top 12 and some of the startup teams near the brink of emergence in the Top 35 are among other early surprises in the points. That being said, here are the best of both this week.

Running Their Mouth: 2009 Shelby 427 at Las Vegas

Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR and all 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 Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2009 Las Vegas Race Recap

On lap 269, Kyle Busch nudged aside Clint Bowyer to take the lead. Busch, who had won the pole for the race, was forced to start out back after blowing an engine in practice – so the accomplishment is much more impressive than it will appear in the record books.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2009 Shelby 427 at Las Vegas

After being relegated to the back of the field after an engine change, Kyle Busch found victory lane anyway. Busch had a fast car and ran a smart, clean race until he shoved Clint Bowyer out of the way to take the lead with 17 laps to go. It was a perfectly executed bump-and-run that would have been textbook perfect on the last lap, but was unnecessary when Busch clearly had a faster car and plenty of time to pass Bowyer cleanly. He got great restarts when it counted to take the checkers.

Voices from the Heartland: Time for the “Old Men” to Show “The Boys” a Thing or 2 at Daytona!

I still think that “whooshing” sound is pretty cool – but after many of the practice sessions we’ve had thus far at Daytona, I find that I am a bit more excited about the race than usual. The source of this excitement is simple: the “old guys!” Guys like Bill Elliott, Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin… and yes, I will even throw Jeff Gordon in there. To a lesser extent there is Terry Labonte, Jeff Burton and maybe even Tony Stewart. Each of these drivers, in their own way, has me cautiously surfing a small swell of enthusiasm as we head into the first race of the new year.

Bubble Breakdown: Sorting Through Who’s Locked In & Locked Out at Daytona

You’d think that over the offseason, it’d be hard for the Top-35 situation to change as no one would be accumulating any more points. But in an offseason filled with teams folding, merging, and selling off their “locked-in” places on the starting grid, the landscape of Who’s In and Who’s Out looks completely different than it did when I left you back in November. Several teams that were out of the Top 35 after Miami have gained access to automatic spots, while others have seen their points go to different cars within their own teams. It’s all enough to leave you more than a little confused. So, without further adieu, let’s clear the air and preview the Top 35 for 2009.

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