NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Bowles-Eye View: 5 Middle-Tier Drivers Making Waves

Matt’s stuck at home with a nasty case of the flu this week, so I’ve been pressed into service as a last-minute replacement for his column. Usually, I try my best to match his sarcasm when I sub in (although in reality, no one can even come close). But this week, in terms of Mouthing Off… I’ve pretty much already done it on a variety of subjects in my weekly version of Did You Notice? on Wednesday. So, I thought that instead of spewing more venom at the NASCAR powers that be this week, I’m going to play around with the term “Mouthing Off” in a different way.

Concern Shifts from Engines to Tires at Atlanta

Many drivers seemed to downplay the current engine dilemma. Kyle Busch said that “Mark Cronquist does such a good job at Joe Gibbs Racing that I don’t believe we’ll have engine failures – that’s never in the back of your mind.” Ryan Newman attributed the current upswing in failures to simply being “just the way things cycle.” Where concern is shifting to yet again in Atlanta is to the tires that will be run this weekend. Expectations were high after Greg Biffle and Juan Pablo Montoya both provided rave reviews of Goodyear’s newest Eagle following a preseason tire test, but so far they do not seem to be living up to the hype.

The Yellow Stripe: Catch 21 – Thoughts, Questions & Observations 3 Races Into 2009

21, as many of you will know, is a lucky number in Las Vegas. So, here are exactly that many questions, observations, and thoughts – in no particular order – on the season so far as the series leaves Sin City to head back east.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2009 Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Edition

The first three races of 2009 have yielded surprising results at the top of the bottom of the points standings. Some drivers, like Mark Martin, are left scratching their head after having fast cars at each race, but no finishes to show for that. Likewise, teams like Michael Waltrip Racing in the top 12 and some of the startup teams near the brink of emergence in the Top 35 are among other early surprises in the points. That being said, here are the best of both this week.

Running Their Mouth: 2009 Shelby 427 at Las Vegas

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 Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2009 Auto Club 500 at Fontana Edition

Adding to the boredom was the dominance of a select few. Kyle Busch came close to scoring the first “hat trick” in NASCAR history, finishing third in the Cup race while scoring impressive wins in both the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series events. Matt Kenseth followed up with his second consecutive win in the Sprint Cup 500-miler, although Jeff Gordon and Greg Biffle each had cars capable of getting to victory lane. Gordon drove a masterful race, only to come up just short, while a Biffle miscue on pit road and other miscues of his own left him with a surprise appearance on this week’s “Hot, Warm, Cold” list. Here’s a breakdown of where Kenseth, Gordon, Biffle and some of the series’ other top drivers stand heading to Las Vegas next week:

Closing NASCAR’s 7th Decade: The Top-12 Drivers – Including the Champ Who’ll Lead Us Into 2010

With 2009 offering one last chance to shape the story of the decade, more outlandish stories beg to be written. Jimmie Johnson will be looking to set a record never thought possible, especially under the Chase playoff format – four consecutive Sprint Cup titles. To do it, he’ll need to fend off perhaps the strongest field of challengers he’s ever had, with Carl Edwards, Mark Martin and Kyle Busch the trendy picks to break his streak. In the background looms one of the better rookie battles of the decade in Joey Logano vs. Scott Speed: NASCAR’s handpicked future messiah against the quirkiest newcomer it’s had in years.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not: 2009 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona Edition

Following Saturday’s Bud Shootout and Sunday’s qualifying session, some drivers and teams have already begun to stand out as possible contenders and definite holders of momentum – while others already have chinks in their armor before they can even get a donut on the driver’s side door. Here is this week’s list of Hot, Warm and Cold drivers:

Running Their Mouth: 2009 Bud Shootout at Daytona

Welcome to the first 2009 edition of Running Their Mouth! Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Nextel 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 Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2009 Bud Shootout at Daytona Race Recap

Kevin Harvick assumed the lead milliseconds before the caution flag flew, signaling the end of the race. With the convoluted new format and dearth of attendance and excitement Saturday night, is it time to just call this Shootout silliness off?

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

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

Frontstretch