NASCAR Race Weekend Central

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.

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2008 Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono

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.

Voice of Vito: Charting the Championship Chase – Who’s In, Who’s Out… & What’s It All About, Anyway?

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.

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2008 Brickyard 400

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.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

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