Like everything in life, you can only do your best but over the course of what is essentially a 40-week stretch, you might just come up short every now and again. Thinking of and writing a cogent column of around 1,000 words is not that easy… and it’s especially the case since I’m still a rookie NASCAR reporter. I don’t have a bank of reserve columns or a string of topics to wax lyrical upon. So, with the All-Star “break” upon us already, here are my seven golden rules for a rookie NASCAR columnist…
Despite a different track surface, it was the same ol’ Darlington Saturday night, with the Lady in Black’s walls jumping out and biting drivers on several occasions… including race winner Kyle Busch. But while there were some adjustments made to the track, adjustments made to this week’s “HOT” list are minimal. Busch continues to dominate. while Junior Nation continues to enjoy the success of the No. 88 team with another top five. Still, two new drivers are featured in this week’s “WARM” and “COLD” lists heading into All-Star weekend. To see who those teams are, check out this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup.
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 Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway.
Today’s Question: Three months into one of the biggest free agent moves in history, which one of NASCAR’s two biggest drivers has the upper hand (i.e. better deal)? Is it “Good Guy” Dale Earnhardt Jr. – NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver – or resident “Bad Boy” Kyle Busch — its most aggressive?
Did You Notice? That Bob Osborne’s return gives Robbie Reiser a chance to focus on some other sinking ships? While the No. 99 was held very much afloat during Osborne’s six weeks away (one win, three top-10 finishes) the same couldn’t be said for the rest of Roush Fenway’s programs. In the last four races of Osborne’s suspension, the other four Roush programs combined for one top five and four top-10 finishes; in particular, Matt Kenseth has looked out to lunch with new crew chief Chip Bolin after a strong start. Was Reiser providing more of a steady hand to that No. 17 then we think once he began his GM role at Roush? We’ll find out in the next few weeks, as that program is desperately in need of a boost.
Obviously, the number one topic following Richmond is the contact between Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. But here’s a question for you: If the roles were reversed, would the public be anointing Earnhardt. the “villain” the way they’ve been doing to Busch? Along those lines, is Busch getting a bad rap?
Richmond is considered by many fans to be the best track on the schedule. Well, the race this week didn’t really provide much excitement for the first 382 laps, but boy, did it make up for it in the final 28. Denny Hamlin dominated the race from the drop of the green flag, before a flat tire proved to be his undoing. Then, fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. was on his way to breaking his winless streak when “one of those racin’ deals” knocked him out of contention — a wreck that came courtesy of contact with Bad Boy Kyle Busch. All the while, Clint Bowyer was taking it all in, just waiting for his opportunity to steal the victory. The twists and turns of the race gave our panel a plethora of reasons to move people up and down the rankings… read on to see if you agree or disagree with the latest choices by the Frontstretch writers.
Saturday’s Crown Royal presents The Dan Lowry 400 was a relatively quiet affair… for the first 95% of the evening, that is. At that point, Denny Hamlin had led all but one lap of 382 circuits around the 3/4-mile speedway in front of his hometown crowd. It had been a fairly smooth race, save for the Patrick Carpentier (or as Larry McReynolds says, “Partrick Compartier”) pinball imitation on lap 231, followed by Michael Waltrip’s parking after mistaking Casey Mears for a Demolition Derby contestant on lap 356. But how quickly things can change in this sport. On lap 383, it was Hamlin’s tire going the way of the dinosaur, eventually causing the caution that would bunch up the field in time for the last few laps. Just like that, several teams who’d simply been watching Hamlin dominate throughout the better portion of the evening suddenly became contenders.
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 Dan Lowry 400 presented by Crown Royal at Richmond International Raceway.
Under the lights on a wild Saturday night at Richmond, sparks flew and fans booed. A controversial accident between Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. made headlines, but it was Clint Bowyer who left the track with a victory. It was Bowyer’s second career win, but that was small consolation for Junior, whose winless streak was extended for another week after his spin. All four contenders at the short track made this week’s “HOT” list; but who could go for a good run at Darlington?