NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Did You Notice? Waltrip Succeeds, Martin Fails, The Top 35 Self-Destructs & Johnson’s Beard?

Did You Notice? The firestorm surrounding cutting the Daytona 500 48 laps short? Personally, I think the anger should be focused on the starting time of the race more than anything else. The 3:45 ET start makes it near impossible to avoid the type of weather issues that we experienced in Sunday’s event. If anything pops up, you don’t have the whole afternoon to kill drying the track and making sure the full distance gets run. Why are we starting the race so late? I can’t find an acceptable answer just yet. Personally, I think a 1:00 ET start time would be perfect…

Voice of Vito: Diary of a Madman – Cabin Fever & Stir Crazy Collides With an Irritating Daytona 500

Well, another Daytona 500 has come and gone, and many are still talking about it. The 2009 NASCAR season is officially underway, and this year Speedweeks had many compelling stories to discuss. It started with the Budweiser Shootout that had Kevin Harvick virtually replaying the 2007 Daytona 500 with a last-lap pass for the win. Then, there were the Duel 150s that saw Jeremy Mayfield, Scott Riggs and AJ Allmendinger squeak in the field by the skin of their teeth (or in Mayfield’s case, flat top). Enter the Camping World Series Truck race next, where Todd Bodine was black-flagged, single-handedly took out half the field, then held off Kyle Busch for the win. And finally, there was the Nationwide Series event that was pretty tame until Jason Leffler sent Steve Wallace for a ride, followed by Shrub attempting to blow Smoke up out of the way.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2009 Daytona 500 Edition

Some teams came out of the block strong following good runs in Sunday’s Daytona 500. Due to the nature of restrictor-plate racing, fate can play a major role in which teams are successful and which head to California hoping to get their season on the right track. And while it’s easy to get caught up in the hype of NASCAR’s Super Bowl, following intermediate track races at California, Las Vegas and Atlanta will play a much larger role than Daytona in determining which teams and drivers are actually contenders and pretenders for the championship. Here are the Hot, Warm and Cold drivers following the Great American Race.

Running Their Mouth: 2009 Daytona 500 Edition

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 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

7 Points to Ponder: 2009 Daytona 500 Edition

While there was plenty of talk this month about Mark Martin’s winless streak in the Daytona 500, the guy he used to drive for had quite a winless streak of his own. Jack Roush has competed in the Daytona 500 every year since 1988, and has had a multi-car operation since 1992 without ever winning the Great American Race. Ironically, after waiting 21 years, the crew chief that got Roush and Kenseth to Victory Lane, Drew Blickensderfer, was calling his first Cup race atop the pit box.

Matt Kenseth Scoots in Front Just in Time to Win 2009 Daytona 500

Matt Kenseth entered Daytona winless in his last 36 starts. That winless streak is now history. Kenseth passed Elliott Sadler in turn 3 on lap 145 for the lead under threatening skies. Half a lap after the pass, the yellow came out for a crash involving the No. 98 of Paul Menard and the No. 31 of Jeff Burton. During the caution, the heavens opened up, and the race never restarted. After less than 15 minutes, NASCAR called the race at 6:48 p.m. with 152 laps (380 miles) completed. Kenseth was thus declared the winner of the 51st Daytona 500.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2009 Daytona 500

Had the rains not come, AJ Allmendinger had a shot at taking it all. In the end, he had to settle for third, but that’s a long way from a year ago, when Allmendinger watched the race on television after failing to qualify. The driver called ‘Dinger by his friends has been impressive in a fill-in role since being released from Team Red Bull late in 2008. Unfortunately, the No. 44 only has funding for a handful of races this year, so we may never see what this driver is capable of.

Happy Hour: NASCAR’s Biggest Problem – Jimmie Johnson

Few drivers in NASCAR history are as calm and measured when the cameras are on as Jimmie Johnson is. So Lowe’s, of course, couldn’t be happier with him, and you can’t blame them, especially given the headaches their biggest competitor had with their outspoken driver once. But Jimmie’s demeanor may also be part of NASCAR’s ratings problem.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from