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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans: 2007 Pepsi 400 at Daytona Edition

The Nextel Cup circuit heads to Daytona this week for NASCAR’s traditional Independence Day extravaganza. Held on the 2.5-mile tri-oval to mark the end of the season’s first half, the 400-miler gives us a chance to take stock and look back on what’s been a wild and wacky beginning to ’07. Even though the race is no longer held ON the 4th of July, it still involves a prolonged celebration of our country’s independence nonetheless.

As for your fantasy team, it’s a bit of a crapshoot; the Pepsi 400 is a completely different race from the Daytona 500 that kicked off the season. This race is during the heat of the Summer and is run completely at night. It is also the final restrictor plate race in the old-style car — the final plate race of the year at Talladega will be run with the Car of Tomorrow.

Busch Series Breakdown: 2007 Camping World 200 at Loudon

The Camping World 200 started off more like a demolition derby than a Busch Series race. There were three cautions for wrecks in the first 42 laps of the race. A multitude of crew chiefs seemed to believe that trend would continue and made a fuel gamble based on the belief that they would be able to receive 30 laps of caution in the last half of the race. However, the second half of the race was much cleaner than the first half, so the teams had to adjust on the fly and come in for fuel when the caution flew with 38 to go. While Matt Kenseth tried a two-tire stop to get to the front at that point in time, his car was just not good enough to hold off Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards.

Matt McLaughlin’s Driver Handicaps: 2007 New Hampshire Summer Race

Jeff Gordon – Gordon has three wins at Loudon, but none since 1998. In fact, his third-place finish at NHIS last fall put to bed a streak of three straight finishes outside of the top 10. But overall, Gordon has 13 top 10s in 24 career starts at this track – and do you want to bet against a Hendrick driver at a CoT event?

Running Their Mouth: 2007 Auto Club 500 at Fontana

Each week, we’ll go through all the media reports, interviews, PR, and our own stuff to find the best quotes from Sunday’s race that best captures the story of how the weekend unfolded, straight from the drivers themselves. This week, Beth Lunkenheimer gives us a sneak peek at what drivers were thinking after the Auto Club 500.

Matt McLaughlin’s 2007 Fontana Spring Race Driver Handicaps

Jimmie Johnson: Johnson scored his first ever career Cup victory at California back in 2002 (yes, kids, they were racing stock cars way back in 2002). In addition, Johnson has scored three runner-up finishes at Fontana, one of them in this race last year. That’s a total of four first or seconds in eight career Cup starts at the track.

Follow the Rules!

Controversial races to the checkered flag in both the Daytona 500 and the Chevy Silverado HD 250 Craftsman Truck Series events have left me dumbfounded as how such a successful organization as NASCAR can all too often demonstrate such poor judgment. It seems to me that the organization masquerades as a top-notch, professional sports entity.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not In Nextel Cup: 2007 Auto Club 500 at Fontana Edition

The only smoke at the track wasn’t from the leftover Victory Lane celebration; plenty of teams saw their chances for victory go up in flames as the final 50 laps of the race were filled with wrecks, busted sheet metal, and broken spirits. So who left Daytona in a blaze of glory, and who left putting out the flames of rage and disappointment? Read this week’s Who’s Hot and Who’s Not to find out.

Running Their Mouth: 2007 Daytona 500

“I was cheering for Greg Biffle or Mark Martin to win, obviously. Mark is my mentor and got me where I’m at. Obviously, I wanted him to win and if he couldn’t win, I wanted to Greg to win because he’s a teammate, but it didn’t work out that way. If there are cars on both sides, there’s only so much you can do. I was on the outside and Mark was on the inside, so I really couldn’t do anything.” – Matt Kenseth

Full Throttle: Does a Great Finish Make Up For a Bad Race?

The 49th Running of the Great American Race is all the buzz around the water coolers this week, as the finish was one of the closest in the history of the event. As most everyone knows at this point, Kevin Harvick prevailed over Mark Martin by .002 seconds, taking the checkered flag under controversy as the caution flag failed to wave for a wreck enveloping half the field behind them. As a result, Martin missed out on his chance to win the big race that has always eluded him, while Harvick cashed in on his first 500 win exactly six years after the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr., the man he replaced.