NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Nationwide Series Breakdown: 2009 Kroger 200 at IRP

After Saturday night’s race, even I am willing to put aside the fact that yet again the Nationwide Series ended a race with a 1-2 dose of Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch (though this time, Edwards came out on top). Why? Without a doubt, the Kroger 200 was the most exciting race of the 2009 …

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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.

5 Points to Ponder: Inside the Sprint Cup Rumor Mill

With the Cup Series taking a rare weekend off, this week’s Five Points will try and help sort out the rampant rumors you may have seen throughout this year’s Silly Season. When the Frontstretch live blog returns next week at Indianapolis, the column’s regular format will also return.

Bubble Driver Review: David Ragan Biggest Disappointment Amongst This Group in 2009

Well, it’s that time of year where we look back at the first half of 2009 and grade our bubble teams. Keep in mind this report card is aimed at a specific subset inside the Cup garage – those in and around the cutoff for the 35 “locked-in” spots the series gives out each week – and not the entire 43-car field. With that in mind, read on to see which of these struggling teams are actually overachieving with limited resources, as well as which ones are falling short of expectations as we take a closer look at the cars on the bubble 19 races into the season.

2009 Rookie Midseason Grades: Who’s Better, Keselowski, Logano or… Ambrose?

The Sprint Cup Series marked the season’s halfway point with an “off week” shortly thereafter, which gives Professor Lumbis a chance to take a breath and evaluate this year’s crop of rookies. It certainly has been an odd season for the 2009 freshman class, as we’ve seen wins, DNQs, “bubble trouble,” and even outside Chase …

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: “Rookies” Joey Logano, Marcos Ambrose Take Advantage of a Late-Race Shootout – Chicago Style

If there was an award given to the winner of the second half of races, Joey Logano would need a bigger trophy room. The youngster continues to improve on his communication with crew chief Greg Zipadelli, and the two have found ways to make significant strides in the handling of the No. 20 car throughout each race over the past two months. When this team finally finds a way to unload off the truck with a car that Logano likes, then we can start to expect them to fight for top 10s at the end of the race instead of trying to squeak out top 20s. Look for that to start happening in a few weeks when the series returns to tracks for a second time on a regular basis, meaning Zipadelli and company can use Logano’s 2009 notes instead of Tony Stewart’s setups from last year.

Bubble Breakdown: Late-Race Trouble Negates Good Efforts from Paul Menard & Brad Keselowski

News from the bubble this past week was dominated by the announcement from Michael Waltrip Racing, who not only re-signed primary sponsor NAPA to a multi-year deal but also upgraded the cockpit of the car by signing two-time Busch Series champion and one-time Chase participant Martin Truex Jr. for 2010. Waltrip will drive up to …

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Thompson in Turn 5: Blocking – It’s Just Racing!

Following last Saturday night’s exciting final lap of the Coke Zero 400 from Daytona International Speedway, there has been a renewed call for NASCAR to “do something” to prevent what some view as the just too dangerous practice of ‘blocking’ – a driving maneuver as much a part of stock car racing as rubbing door …

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Bowles-Eye View: 2 Scary Wrecks, 1 Busch-League Maneuver… & A Lesson in Handling Adversity

Two restrictor-plate races, two last-lap finishes and two frightening crashes. We’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly the last time out at both Daytona and Talladega, with battles for the win turned battles for survival in little more than the blink of an eye. The way these wrecks unfolded were eerily similar, the …

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