NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2007 Talladega Fall Race Recap

A shove from the No. 22 car of Dave Blaney gave Jeff Gordon enough momentum to pass his teammate on the last lap. Tony Stewart appeared to inadvertently seal the deal for Gordon, running into the back of him and forcing Jimmie Johnson to settle for second.

Nextel Cup Rookie Report: Villeneuve, Montoya Not Terrified by Talladega

Making his first Nextel Cup start for Bill Davis, Villeneuve shocked the NASCAR world by turning in the sixth-fastest qualifying time, easily making the field in which five of the top six were Toyotas. Respecting the concerns of his competitors about debuting at one of the most dangerous tracks on the circuit, the Canadian made the classy move of falling to the back of the field before the green flag even waved. The former Formula 1 and Indy 500 champ spent the rest of the day trying to simply make laps, stay out of trouble, and not be the cause of the “Big One.” Mission almost accomplished.

Matt McLaughlin’s Driver Handicaps: 2007 Talladega Fall Race Edition

Jimmie Johnson – Johnson has been on a roll at Talladega as of late: he won here last spring and finished second in April. He almost won last fall’s Talladega event, as well; that is, before former teammate Brian Vickers crashed the little party Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Johnson were staging on the final lap of the race. Johnson was miffed for a long time after that, but don’t expect it to be a problem this year – Vickers is in a Toyota and might not even qualify for the race.

Matt McLaughlin’s Driver Handicaps: 2007 Lifelock 400 at Kansas Edition

Jeff Gordon – Gordon won the first two Cup races at Kansas and finished fifth in his third start at the track. He hasn’t had a top five here since then, though, and last year suffered a mechanical DNF.

Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans: 2007 Lifelock 400 at Kansas Edition

Week three of the Chase finds the traveling road show in the Heartland of America at Kansas Speedway, the newest of the “cookie-cutter” tracks that have come to dominate the schedule in recent years. When it comes to intermediates, there’s one other thing to be aware of; they’re usually the type of racetrack where history repeats itself. Because of that, we’ve gone back through the history books, ready to drop some knowledge from the past to help your future for this week’s edition of Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans.

Matt McLaughlin’s Driver Handicaps: 2007 Dover Fall Race

Jimmie Johnson – Johnson won both Cup races at Dover in 2002, as well as this event in 2005. He has top-10 finishes in seven of 11 Cup starts here – but has missed the mark the last two times out.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not OUTSIDE The Chase: 2007 Sylvania 300 at Loudon Edition

Which one of the non-Chasers is in the best position to spoil the championship party at Dover? Read on to find out who in this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not, outside the Chase. One note before we begin, unlike our regular edition, we only highlight six drivers in this edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not, which means to make the list, you need to really be on fire (or ice cold, for that matter).

Driver Handicaps: 2007 Sylvania 300 at Loudon Edition

Jimmie Johnson – The top seed in the Chase with six wins, Johnson won both NHIS Cup races in 2003 and is averaging an 11th-place finish here after 11 starts.

10 Points to Ponder… After the 2007 Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond

1. The Dale Earnhardt Jr. 400 – Oh, you mean that wasn’t the name of Saturday night’s race? Could have fooled me. Earnhardt’s odds of making the Chase were ridiculously slim going into Richmond, making ESPN/ABC’s singular focus on him both ridiculous and way over the top.

Matt McLaughlin’s Driver Handicaps: 2007 Richmond Fall Race Edition

Jeff Gordon – Gordon has won here twice, and has top-10 finishes in 17 of 29 starts… but his track record lately at RIR is worrisome. His fourth-place finish in the spring arrested a streak of four straight finishes of 30th or worse, including a disastrous performance in 2005 that locked him out of NASCAR’s “playoff.” Some would argue since Gordon is solidly in the Chase, he has little incentive to finish on top this weekend; however, that also gives him the option to go for the win, something he hasn’t hesitated to do over the past month or so.

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