NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Tag Archives: Erik Darnell

Rookies Perform Terribly While a Former ROTY Behaves Terribly at Loudon

*Joey Logano:* *Start: 33rd; Finish: 21st* *Summary:* Joey Logano’s return to his home track, where he scored his first career Cup victory earlier this year, did not get off to a good start. The Connecticut native could only muster enough speed out of his Home Depot Camry for a dismal 33rd starting position on Friday, and any hope of having a better race setup was quickly erased as Logano struggled to make up ground in the first 150 laps of the event.

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Rookie Report: Joey Logano Leads Quiet Night for Rookie Contenders

*Scott Speed:* *Start: 32nd; Finish: 24th* *Summary: It certainly wasn't flashy, but Scott Speed finished the race 24th, with a car in good shape. That's about everything Team Red Bull can ask at this point, considering that the top 35 is all but out of reach and that the organization's focus is square on the No. 83 car and securing a Chase berth, not working on developing a rookie driver. The other good news for Speed was that in his now third trip back to Atlanta, he posted his first top 25 finish, a result ten places better than he produced in the spring. The measuring stick for all rookies is with regard to improving on repeat visits, and Speed did just that on Sunday.*

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Ousting A Veteran Driver At His Best Track For An Unproven Rookie: Par For The Course In NASCAR

It was announced this week that 2000 Winston Cup Champion Bobby Labonte was going to be replaced in effect, by Roush Fenway Craftsman Truck Series driver Erik Darnell in seven of the final 12 races this season. Labonte started this season as the latest driver of the No. 96 Hall of Fame racing machine, which in recent years has been piloted by such luminaries as Tony Raines and J.J. Yeley. With Labonte’s name between the A and B pillars of the car, and sponsor Ask.com on the hood - replete with some memorable if awkward commercials – the team was able to survive what was almost certainly an untimely demise following the conclusion of the 2008 NASCAR season. Now as the 2009 schedule approaches the Chase cut off in a couple of weeks, it appears that Labonte will in effect be cut off from the No. 96 Ford – a car in which he has pulled yeoman’s duty in this year. Moreover, it occurs on the weekend that the series comes to what has been the best track in Labonte’s illustrious career.

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Mirror Driving: Montreal To Cup?, Atlanta Angst, And Where Have All The Rookies Gone?

*The Nationwide Series ran a wild and crazy race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Sunday, with rain tires and a roller coaster running order jumbling up the finish. Was the competition overall better than last year, and is this a venue where NASCAR should explore sending the Cup teams at this point?* Beth: It wasn't bad, but I wouldn't be too quick to move the Cup Series there. Jeff: I agree; while I liked the race, the circuit is just not ready for Cup. Amy: I’m with you two. I thought the race was decent, but in my opinion, it's a good venue for a NNS standalone -- and that’s it.

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Is Erik Darnell’s Best Chance Bobby Labonte’s Last Hurrah?

Bobby Labonte's poor performance behind the wheel of the No. 96 has to be at least a partial determining factor in not securing the funding needed for all 36 races. That opened the door for him to be replaced by a younger, sponsor-friendly alternative Monday, and with Roush Fenway having no shortage of those these days it's no surprise Erik Darnell has been installed in a seat once reserved by Labonte's Hall of Fame Racing for seven of the final 12 events. Yet while the move will undoubtedly anger traditionalists all across NASCAR nation, it's hard to fault Yates Racing for forcing out a guy whose best years may well be behind him for good.

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Nationwide Series Breakdown: 2009 U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa

If there is one thing that has kept Brad Keselowski from challenging Kyle Busch for the Nationwide title in 2009, it has been an inability to keep up on the short run. The No. 88 car has been among the fastest after a few laps…but that’s all it’s been taking for the No. 18 to pull away. That all changed on Saturday. Despite having two fresh right side tires on his Toyota, Busch found himself unable to fend off Brad Keselowski who, after leading the most laps, stormed to the point with eight to go after mounting a furious charge from the exit of turn 3 all the way down the frontstretch.

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Nationwide Series Breakdown: 2009 Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 at Gateway

On a rare weekend where the Nationwide Series was the only show in town, Cup regulars were nonetheless the story all night long… though a different face did most of the dominating. With announcements swirling that he would be doing more Nationwide driving in his own No. 33 car next season, Kevin Harvick led over half the laps run on Saturday night and had something for Kyle Busch’s red-hot No. 18 team. That is, until an audible decision by crew chief Ernie Cope to stretch fuel mileage bit Harvick on lap 172, knocking the No. 33 car from contention and handing Kyle Busch his sixth Nationwide win of 2009.

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Nationwide Series Breakdown: 2009 NorthernTool.com 250 at Milwaukee

Déjà vu. Last year, Carl Edwards shook off a disastrous run at Kentucky and a weak start to his defense of the 2007 Nationwide title with a breakthrough win at the Milwaukee Mile. That’s exactly what happened on Saturday night, again. Edwards, who stalked the race leaders for much of the event, finally got past Kyle Busch with 44 laps to go, and never looked back, holding Busch off on two late race restarts to score his first Nationwide win of 2009.

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Mirror Driving: Keselowski’s Sprint Cup Future, Yanking the Yellow-Line Rule & Super Bowl-Sized Issues for Daytona

Brad Keselowski won in just his fifth career Sprint Cup start at Talladega this past weekend. With Mark Martin now contemplating staying in the No. 5 - a ride many expect Keselowski to inherit - in 2010 and possibly beyond, what does Keselowski's Cup Series future hold?

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Tracking the Trucks: 2008 Mountain Dew 250 at Talladega

Todd Bodine took the checkered flag 0.074 seconds ahead of Ron Hornaday Jr. to win the Mountain Dew 250 presented by Toyota Saturday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway. Bodine took the lead in the final turn on the last lap to win his third consecutive superspeedway race. Kyle Busch, Colin Braun, and Mike Wallace rounded out the top five.

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