Race Weekend Central

Happy Hour: Is NASCAR Seeing What’s Happening?

It very often seems as though NASCAR shrugs off similar complaints. Nearly every week I read multiple comments from people saying they’re done watching. And judging from the ratings this season, it sounds like people mean it. NASCAR can point out having more viewers than women’s basketball or golf, but the reality is that the ratings have been dropping every season for several years now, and there is still little being done to improve the fan experience.

Fanning the Flames: When the Story About the Story Becomes THE Story

Q: Why did NASCAR penalize Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Casey Mears for their actions at Phoenix? I thought NASCAR wanted emotion… isn’t that what Brian said last year? I could maybe understand a penalty if Junior spun Mears during green and caused a big wreck, but on the cool-down lap?

Frontstretch Fantasy Insider: Picking the ‘Dega Drafting Lane That’s Moving Forward

The fantasy wild card weekend that is Talladega looms on the horizon. The Big One, which happens more times than not, can take out a player’s entire fantasy team in one fell swoop – or, it could cause a player’s team to sweep into the top 10 when most of the other competition is taken out. Some drivers who have been struggling this year may benefit from this type of restrictor-plate weekend, while others who have exceeded expectations could be brought right back down to Earth. On a track that’s so unpredictable, how can you turn the odds in your favor? Read on to see who the Frontstretch fantasy experts feel will tiptoe around the wrecks in their latest edition of Fantasy Insider.

Did You Notice? Restrictor Plate 1-Hit Wonders & The New Precedent of “Probation”

Did You Notice? Just probation for Casey Mears and Dale Earnhardt Jr.? Did you really expect the sanctioning body to do anything more after their little post-race altercation at Phoenix? We already have the U.S. Army spread out in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere across the globe… there’s no need to dispatch an additional battalion to protect Brian France and Co. should they have made the bold, unprecedented move of suspending Earnhardt for aggressive driving – or taking away points that could possibly keep him from Chase-ing with the season he’s had.

Mirror Driving: Coming Clean at Roush Fenway, Cleaning Up NASCAR’s Ratings Decline & More

Continuing a recent trend, the race at Phoenix saw an 18% drop in ratings from over a year ago despite a popular Mark Martin victory. Why are ratings continuing to plummet, and is there any way to stop the trend?

Full Throttle: Dale Earnhardt’s Dream Now a Nightmare

In 1980, Dale Earnhardt, with his wife Teresa, formed a company named Dale Earnhardt Incorporated. Initially, the company was put together to compete in some Nationwide Series races, with the eventual goal of going Cup racing. In 1996, that goal was realized when the organization fielded the No. 14 Racing for Kids Chevrolet, driven by …

Read more

The Yellow Stripe: 50 is the New 20 for Mark Martin

When I took a job at Nextel’s advertising agency back in September 2005, working on their NASCAR sponsorship team, the first advertising campaign I worked on was a series of tribute ads to the two retiring drivers – Rusty Wallace and the inimitable Mark Martin. That was four years ago, and while Rusty is happy to fulfill his broadcasting role and shepherd the progress of his son, it’s not been quite the same for the veteran driver from Batesville, Ark. Tempted out of retirement to wheel the No. 6 car for Jack Roush for one final year in 2006, Martin parlayed his delayed retirement into a partial schedule in 2007 (for Bobby Ginn) and then 2008 (Dale Earnhardt Inc.) in the No. 8 car vacated by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Then, midway through last season the announcement came that Martin was to replace Casey Mears and pilot the No. 5 of Hendrick Motorsports and take one last, glorious crack at the full schedule.

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2009 Phoenix Spring Race Recap

Mark Martin was able to quickly dispatch Ryan Newman on the race’s final restart, and Tony Stewart never generated the steam to catch him. Martin’s victory is a feel good story, but it doesn’t hide the fact Phoenix wasn’t much of a race.

Bowles-Eye View: Mark Martin’s Rise Leaves Dale Earnhardt Jr. Flat On His Face

This is a story about two men’s historic rise and fall from grace. As Mark Martin took the checkered flag Saturday night, the desert night lit up with thousands of smiling faces. Sentimentality was in the air again at Phoenix International Raceway, a mere two minutes after a 50-year-old won his first race since ‘05 and two years after Jeff Gordon tied the late, great Earnhardt name with his 76th career win. History has been no stranger to the desert as of late; but this time around, the fans stood respectful of Martin’s seniority rather than rueful for Gordon’s claim to historic fame.

5 Points to Ponder: 2009 Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix Edition

For all the talk of anti-climactic races this season, NASCAR was fortunate to have an exciting finish this weekend. Sure, there were long green-flag runs throughout the race, and clean air provided such an advantage that Dale Earnhardt Jr. couldn’t compete without it – but there were several moments that made this finish interesting.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

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