Race Weekend Central

10 Points to Ponder: 2009 Auto Club 500 at Fontana Edition

Several fans had a bitter taste in their mouth about the ending of the Daytona 500 last week – and rightfully so. When you have a driver who hasn’t won a race in over a year and he suddenly wins the sport’s most prestigious race after taking the lead one lap before it rains, fans have a right to hesitate when giving credit to the winner. But what most people don’t realize is that Matt Kenseth put himself in position for that Daytona victory whether it rained or not; and this week, he proved the win was no fluke. The Wisconsin native is the first driver to win the first two races of the season since Jeff Gordon over 10 years ago; and don’t look now, but Kenseth has two wins and averaged a ninth-place finish in nine races at Las Vegas, as well.

Happy Hour: What’s Left To Be Said About The Daytona 380

As is all in a week’s work for the Official Columnist of NASCAR, I watched, I listened, and I read what people had to say about the Daytona 380. Here, then, is what is left and needs to be said… or probably more correctly, what was said that needs to be repeated. There’s a lot here, gang, but please bear with me… I think it’s all worthwhile. Get yourself some coffee, print this and take it to the can while the boss isn’t watching… it’s Friday.

Matt McLaughlin Mouths Off: Of Rodents, Late Sunday Afternoons, the Crown Prince’s Temper Tantrum, Cabbages & Kings

Monday morning, my email inbox was flooded to the point I’ve given up on even making a dent in the mail. I’m not surprised the largest volume of email was generated by the controversial wreck Dale Earnhardt Jr. set off on lap 125 and its outcome, in which nearly a quarter of the field wound up wrecked. The second most commented upon topic was FOX’s abhorrent and abortive coverage of the race, with that annoying little rodent Digger seemingly emblematic of everything the fans despised about Sunday’s race coverage. Those two topics easily outweighed every other one my readers had on their minds, including Matt Kenseth’s first win in over a year in the series’ biggest race – and the first ever Daytona 500 victory for Jack Roush after all his years in the sport. That’s too bad.

Fanning the Flames: The Inevitable Daytona Hangover

Q: There has been a lot of talk this year about the start-and-park cars potentially entered into the 500. The talk also has placed the payout figure to these cars as starting at some $250,000 (just to start the race). My question then becomes: is $250,000 enough to cover expenses for a week or so at Daytona in trying to make the race?

Mirror Driving: Daytona Disappointment, Yellow Line Disgust, & is Kenseth a Hall of Famer?

The Daytona 500 had several controversial moments, but the biggest was the race being shortened by over 100 miles due to rain. Did NASCAR do the right thing by starting at the scheduled time, or should the green flag have been moved up so that the entire race could be run?

Did You Notice? Waltrip Succeeds, Martin Fails, The Top 35 Self-Destructs & Johnson’s Beard?

Did You Notice? The firestorm surrounding cutting the Daytona 500 48 laps short? Personally, I think the anger should be focused on the starting time of the race more than anything else. The 3:45 ET start makes it near impossible to avoid the type of weather issues that we experienced in Sunday’s event. If anything pops up, you don’t have the whole afternoon to kill drying the track and making sure the full distance gets run. Why are we starting the race so late? I can’t find an acceptable answer just yet. Personally, I think a 1:00 ET start time would be perfect…

Voice of Vito: Diary of a Madman – Cabin Fever & Stir Crazy Collides With an Irritating Daytona 500

Well, another Daytona 500 has come and gone, and many are still talking about it. The 2009 NASCAR season is officially underway, and this year Speedweeks had many compelling stories to discuss. It started with the Budweiser Shootout that had Kevin Harvick virtually replaying the 2007 Daytona 500 with a last-lap pass for the win. Then, there were the Duel 150s that saw Jeremy Mayfield, Scott Riggs and AJ Allmendinger squeak in the field by the skin of their teeth (or in Mayfield’s case, flat top). Enter the Camping World Series Truck race next, where Todd Bodine was black-flagged, single-handedly took out half the field, then held off Kyle Busch for the win. And finally, there was the Nationwide Series event that was pretty tame until Jason Leffler sent Steve Wallace for a ride, followed by Shrub attempting to blow Smoke up out of the way.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2009 Daytona 500 Edition

Some teams came out of the block strong following good runs in Sunday’s Daytona 500. Due to the nature of restrictor-plate racing, fate can play a major role in which teams are successful and which head to California hoping to get their season on the right track. And while it’s easy to get caught up in the hype of NASCAR’s Super Bowl, following intermediate track races at California, Las Vegas and Atlanta will play a much larger role than Daytona in determining which teams and drivers are actually contenders and pretenders for the championship. Here are the Hot, Warm and Cold drivers following the Great American Race.

Running Their Mouth: 2009 Daytona 500 Edition

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 car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

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