NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch Fantasy Insider: Filling the Toolbox for Atlanta Success

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.

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.

Fanning the Flames: Unpopular Views on the Week That Was in NASCAR

Q: Matt, I was wondering what your thoughts were on Todd Berrier as a crew chief? Although I think he does an admirable job, I’m left to wonder if it is time he and Kevin Harvick part ways. Seems like more often than not the changes on the car he makes throughout the race don’t always help — and sometimes flat out hurt it. They’ve been together a while, and I’m sure that means something — but maybe it’s time for some new blood on that team.

Mirror Driving: Discussing Michael Waltrip’s Surprise, Kyle Busch’s “Historical” Moment & Driver Responsibility

NASCAR has kept two races on the schedule at Auto Club Speedway despite faltering attendance and fan complaints about the quality of racing, claiming that it needs to have these dates in the California market. But is it really better for the sport to have a presence in certain cities than it is to provide a better product to the larger number of fans who tune in on television each week?

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2009 Auto Club 500 at Fontana Edition

Adding to the boredom was the dominance of a select few. Kyle Busch came close to scoring the first “hat trick” in NASCAR history, finishing third in the Cup race while scoring impressive wins in both the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series events. Matt Kenseth followed up with his second consecutive win in the Sprint Cup 500-miler, although Jeff Gordon and Greg Biffle each had cars capable of getting to victory lane. Gordon drove a masterful race, only to come up just short, while a Biffle miscue on pit road and other miscues of his own left him with a surprise appearance on this week’s “Hot, Warm, Cold” list. Here’s a breakdown of where Kenseth, Gordon, Biffle and some of the series’ other top drivers stand heading to Las Vegas next week:

10 Points to Ponder: 2009 Auto Club 500 at Fontana Edition

Several fans had a bitter taste in their mouth about the ending of the Daytona 500 last week – and rightfully so. When you have a driver who hasn’t won a race in over a year and he suddenly wins the sport’s most prestigious race after taking the lead one lap before it rains, fans have a right to hesitate when giving credit to the winner. But what most people don’t realize is that Matt Kenseth put himself in position for that Daytona victory whether it rained or not; and this week, he proved the win was no fluke. The Wisconsin native is the first driver to win the first two races of the season since Jeff Gordon over 10 years ago; and don’t look now, but Kenseth has two wins and averaged a ninth-place finish in nine races at Las Vegas, as well.

Happy Hour: What’s Left To Be Said About The Daytona 380

As is all in a week’s work for the Official Columnist of NASCAR, I watched, I listened, and I read what people had to say about the Daytona 380. Here, then, is what is left and needs to be said… or probably more correctly, what was said that needs to be repeated. There’s a lot here, gang, but please bear with me… I think it’s all worthwhile. Get yourself some coffee, print this and take it to the can while the boss isn’t watching… it’s Friday.

Matt McLaughlin Mouths Off: Of Rodents, Late Sunday Afternoons, the Crown Prince’s Temper Tantrum, Cabbages & Kings

Monday morning, my email inbox was flooded to the point I’ve given up on even making a dent in the mail. I’m not surprised the largest volume of email was generated by the controversial wreck Dale Earnhardt Jr. set off on lap 125 and its outcome, in which nearly a quarter of the field wound up wrecked. The second most commented upon topic was FOX’s abhorrent and abortive coverage of the race, with that annoying little rodent Digger seemingly emblematic of everything the fans despised about Sunday’s race coverage. Those two topics easily outweighed every other one my readers had on their minds, including Matt Kenseth’s first win in over a year in the series’ biggest race – and the first ever Daytona 500 victory for Jack Roush after all his years in the sport. That’s too bad.

Fanning the Flames: The Inevitable Daytona Hangover

Q: There has been a lot of talk this year about the start-and-park cars potentially entered into the 500. The talk also has placed the payout figure to these cars as starting at some $250,000 (just to start the race). My question then becomes: is $250,000 enough to cover expenses for a week or so at Daytona in trying to make the race?

Mirror Driving: Daytona Disappointment, Yellow Line Disgust, & is Kenseth a Hall of Famer?

The Daytona 500 had several controversial moments, but the biggest was the race being shortened by over 100 miles due to rain. Did NASCAR do the right thing by starting at the scheduled time, or should the green flag have been moved up so that the entire race could be run?

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