NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans: Is Someone Else Worth Picking Over Kyle Busch & Carl Edwards at Bristol?

With so many drivers’ success or failure dependent on luck, the Bristol Motor Speedway is bound to offer you more questions than answers heading into the weekend. Will Kyle Busch continue his winning ways? Can Carl Edwards win the night race at Bristol again? Is Tony Stewart finally going to break the winless streak? Can Dale Earnhardt Jr. avoid another pit road issue? Will Jamie McMurray continue his run of strong finishes? Only this week’s Picks ‘N’ Pans will tell you which guys you should keep on your roster and which ones should be riding the bench after spending half the night with crumpled sheet metal in the garage.

Did You Notice? Jeff Gordon’s Sudden Slide, What NASCAR’s Schedule Hides, & Hamlin’s Bad Side

Did You Notice? That California Speedway’s date realignment on the 2009 Sprint Cup schedule did nothing to address the quality of racing at that facility? I will say the Labor Day date was always a horrible weekend for them. Not only did people in L.A. have other things to do, but the heat is pretty unbearable that time of year. I worked the race in 2007, and it was agonizingly hot during the entire four days we were out there. With temperatures reaching upwards of 105-110 degrees, there was little if anything air conditioning could do for fans, media, and drivers alike.

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2008 3M Performance 400 at Michigan

Four wide-open grooves of racing at Michigan gave the drivers a lot of options Sunday — giving the faster cars a great chance to work their way forward. But for Denny Hamlin and Kasey Kahne, the only racing line they were able to handle was the one that led straight to the garage. Both saw their engines go up in smoke well before 400 miles were complete; and as a result, they slid multiple spots in the points and in our latest power rankings chart. Was Carl Edwards’ second win in three races enough to finally knock Kyle Busch off his perch at the top of our list? To see if your favorite driver kept his ranking intact after 400 miles in the Irish Hills, check out the latest results of our weekly Top 15 poll.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 3M Performance 400 at Michigan Edition

There’s been no better time to drive a Blue Oval in the Cup Series this year. Carl Edwards is just one of the five Roush Fenway drivers who make either the HOT or WARM lists this week, and Travis Kvapil, David Gilliland, and even the Wood Brothers have been impressive during at least one of the last two races. But while the Ford camp has found the magic touch, other teams and manufacturers are struggling with just three weeks to go until the playoffs. To see who could really go for a win — and who’s left to challenge Busch and Edwards for the title — check out this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup.

Running Their Mouth: 2008 3M Performance 400 at Michigan

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 the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the 3M Performance 400 presented by Bondo at Michigan International Speedway.

Holding a Pretty Wheel: 1st-Year Blues & Fantastic Freshmen

Adding a new team to an established stable isn’t easy. Recent additions to powerhouse teams have had mixed results. Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and Penske Racing South already had Cup championships when they added teams, as did RCR when it first expanded to two, then three cars. Powerhouses Roush Fenway Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. had also added cars to successful lineups. And the results have been mixed. Since 1999, these six teams have added a total of eight new Cup teams. While some debuts were destined for stardom from the start, others were less than auspicious. All but two have gone on to contend for championships, however, so this bodes well for the new No. 33 in the long run. In the meantime, here is a look at my ranking of the inaugural seasons for the eight teams added to the major players in the last 10 years.

Did You Notice? Junior Stressed Out? Said Rained Out? & Why Did McDowell Pout?

Did You Notice? That Dale Earnhardt Jr. looks a little haggard lately? In virtually every single interview I’ve seen him do over the past two months, Junior’s answers are so slow and meticulously constructed it feels like he’s processing the question in slow motion. I feel like it’s either one of two things – it’s either Junior’s stressed out, or he’s still adjusting a bit in his new role at the more politically correct Hendrick Motorsports.

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2008 Centurion Boats at the Glen

Turning right and left didn’t just cause a litany of Cup veterans some angst — it also gave our writers some sleepless nights in how to figure in a road-course finish into their own Top 15 Power Rankings formula. The series’ best road racer, Jeff Gordon, had himself one of the worst days of his career at one of those venues, leading to a shocking tumble down the list. But for Kevin Harvick, the weekend marked a pleasant surprise with a masterful top-10 performance at the road course. Who else was able to make a major move this week?To find the answers and see how your favorite driver wound up after the twists and turns in New York, read below for the latest edition of our Frontstretch Top 15.

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