Dale Earnhardt, Jr. pitted under caution on lap 66, handing the lead to Kyle Busch — who would never come close to relinquishing it.
Considering the range of possibilities ahead, it’s surprising our Power Rankings stayed fairly stable. Brian Vickers was the lone exception; his run of bad luck dropped him out of the list, allowing a fellow Chase hopeful to slide into his place. Who is the mystery man — with a mystery sponsor for ’09 — that’s once again cracked our Top 15? To see how the Xs and Ys were squared to come up with Z this week, check out the results of our top Top 15 rankings — voted on by your favorite Frontstretch writers.
One can break the current 14 championship contenders down into three distinct groups, each of whom has drivers who can break out and become a serious title threat all the way through Homestead in November. Out of each group, there seems to be a sole driver who seems primed to separate themselves from the rest of the party and make a move for title contention. Let’s take a look at how they stack up with one another.
And the winner of the first annual Indianapolis Heat Race is… Jimmie Johnson! OK, so maybe it was the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, but the way in which the race was controlled by NASCAR — with competition cautions held every 10 laps — they might as well have renamed it the Allstate 25. With so many stops and starts, it was difficult to gauge the worthiness of driver rankings after both the off week and the debacle that was Goodyeargate 2008. However, your dedicated staff at Frontstretch did their best to see through the cords and rubber dust and give you the best rankings they could possibly compile.
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 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
I said I wanted to start with a two-car team, and being an upstart, I might not get all the top talent I’d like to have. So what to look for in a second driver? Well, part of success in today’s NASCAR is marketability. That’s right, the ability to look good on TV and push a product to its intended demographic has become increasingly important. I’ll admit, I’ve never quite gotten it–after all, shouldn’t driving ability be paramount? But it’s not always that easy. Here’s my list of five guys in Cup who have those intangibles needed to woo and impress sponsors and fans alike–even if they don’t always get the spotlight.
If you are a devoted sports fan, if you think the best man or woman should win, if you believe that the integrity of the outcome in any sport should be respected and preserved, if you think Bart Giamatti was right to expel Pete Rose from baseball, if at the very least you recognize that professional wrestling really isn’t a sport, then you cannot reasonably defend the Chase for the Sprint Cup on competition grounds. Your sports fan’s conscience shouldn’t allow it. Because when you get right down to it, the Chase does one thing and one thing only: it takes points away from drivers that were earned the only way points should ever be earned in motorsports: on the racetrack.
Q: My question: Have you heard anything about penalties on Carl Edwards’ Nationwide Series No. 60 car? NASCAR found illegal brakes on the car after the [Chicagoland] race.
At the midpoint of the season, this year’s championship picture is taking shape, and the two strongest candidates right now are looking like Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. But who makes a better potential champion for NASCAR in the big picture — the brash, outspoken multiple-race winner Busch, or the mild-mannered Earnhardt, a picture of consistency with fewer wins but more fans?
At the beginning of the year, Frontstretch asked our staff of nearly two dozen writers a handful of questions that we thought would develop into the major storylines within NASCAR in 2008. It was a potpourri of pressing stories, predicting anything from the future of the sport’s Most Popular Driver to the mindset of its most disillusioned fan. Six months in – during the final off week of what’s shaping up to be a 17-race stretch to the final checkered flag at Homestead – I thought it’d be as good time as any to revisit those questions and where we stand at this point during the season. So, without further ado… let’s check in on the pulse of the sport.