NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Running Their Mouth: 2007 Checker Auto Parts 500K at Phoenix

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 Checker Auto Parts 500K at Phoenix International Raceway.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in the Chase: 2007 Checker Auto Parts 500k at Phoenix Edition

As the song by Herman’s Hermits says, “second verse, same as the first.” Well, in this case, the third and fourth verse are the same, too. Jimmie Johnson continued to make the Chase a bore by scoring his fourth straight win in Sunday’s Checker Auto Parts 500K, extending his lead to 86 over Jeff Gordon with just one race remaining on the schedule. While all eyes will firmly be on Johnson and Gordon, there are other drivers in the Chase peaking late in the season who are looking to end the year with a win.

Fanning the Flames: Another “Official Explanation,” The Scoop on Bogus Rumors & A Visit From Hee-Haw’s Roy Clark

For an official explanation, though, I give you NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp: “A failure did occur in a piece of portable dispensing equipment that is sometimes used to supplement the permanent pumps on busy race days,” Tharp told reporters at Texas Motor Speedway this past weekend. “This failure allowed a small amount of water to be dispensed. Portable equipment has been used for many years without a problem and, in fact, this equipment functioned properly during the Craftsman Truck race at Atlanta, right before the Nextel Cup race.”

Matt McLaughlin’s Driver Handicaps: 2007 Phoenix Fall Race Edition

Jimmie Johnson – Johnson came home second in this race last year, and has four straight top-10 finishes at Phoenix. He also finished second here in 2003.

Mirror Driving: Kenseth’s Special Comment, Hendrick = Dominant, & Gauging Edwards’s Busch Accomplishment

After waging a hard-fought battle with Jimmie Johnson over the final 10 laps, is Matt Kenseth being unfairly criticized for openly mentioning he’s going to settle for second on the radio?

Full Throttle: Penske Preparing for Past Champion’s Provisional Sham with Sam Hornish Jr., Kurt Busch

The word around the garage at Texas was that car owner Roger Penske is considering making a change next year to his driver lineup, taking advantage of the rules as they are written to ensure Hornish a starting spot in the first five races next season. In a move that would put all three of his cars on solid ground, Penske is thinking of putting his open-wheel star turned stock car rookie into the No. 2 car – or at the very least, applying the owner points from that car to Hornish’s ride for the 2008 season. In the meantime, Kurt Busch would have points from Penske’s third entry, the No. 06, which he plans to bring full-time in 2008.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in the Chase: 2007 Dickies 500 at Texas Edition

They say everything is bigger and better in Texas, and that adage certainly proved true for Jimmie Johnson, as he continued his quest for back-to-back Nextel Cup championships. Once again, Johnson and the No. 48 team found themselves at the front of the field when it came down to money time, as he ran down Matt Kenseth in the closing laps to score his ninth win of the season and third in a row. Not even his teammate/co-owner/mentor Jeff Gordon can seem to tame the No. 48 juggernaut; with just two races remaining on the schedule, he’s fallen behind his streaky teammate.

Running Their Mouth: 2007 Dickies 500 at Texas

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 Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Matt McLaughlin’s Driver Handicaps: 2007 Texas Fall Race Edition

Jeff Gordon – Quick; Gordon hasn’t won at which two tracks currently on the Cup schedule? That’s right… Homestead and Texas. Gordon did finish second at TMS in 2002 and has top-10 finishes in six of his 13 Cup starts here; however, his average finish in Fort Worth remains a paltry 16th.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in the Chase: 2007 Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Edition

No matter what you think of the ending, once the smoke cleared there was certainly no surprise up front; the Gordon/Johnson juggernaut had tightened its grip on the competition. It was Johnson who fared the better of the two, scoring his series-leading eighth win of the year to narrow the deficit to just nine points behind Jeff Gordon as the series heads to Texas. But could that monopoly on Victory Lane end this weekend, as the Nextel Cup boys head to a track where neither Jimmie Johnson or Gordon have won? Cinderella Clint Bowyer is hoping for just that, perhaps the only other driver within striking distance as the championship prepares to enter its final set of turns.

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