NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Nextel Cup: 2008 UAW-Dodge 400 at Las Vegas Edition

In what was a much smoother race weekend than the on again/off again rain debacle last weekend in California, the story in Vegas wound up with a similar ending, with Carl Edwards cementing his status as the hottest driver in the Cup Series right out of the box. But who else left Vegas with a boatload of cash and momentum? And on the flip side, who’s currently in gambling purgatory — needing good runs in the next two weeks to steer clear of the dreaded Top-35 bubble position in car owner points? To see the latest trends in Sprint Cup, as well as what to expect next Sunday in Atlanta, check out this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not.

That’s History Profile: Tim Richmond

To racing fans, Richmond’s emergence onto the NASCAR scene in 1981 required many to readjust their images of the typical stock car driver. Richmond did not fall into the familiar stereotypical gritty, rags-to-riches, rural southern driver that dominated the Winston Cup Scene of that era. Far from it, Richmond grew up a child of privilege in a wealthy Ohio family. He did not grow up fixing up jalopies or racing along the dirt roads of the southeast honing his driving skills and dreaming of one day following in the footsteps of boyhood heroes such as Tim Flock, Junior Johnson or Fireball Roberts. In fact, Richmond did not even become interested in auto racing until he was 21-years old when he took a “joy ride” in a friend’s sprint car and became hooked on the adrenaline rush. Driving a racecar provided the dare-seeking Richmond with the thrill that he had sought in other risk-taking sports such as motorcycles, speedboats and airplanes.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Nextel Cup: 2008 Auto Club 500 at Fontana Edition

With the win, Carl Edwards recorded Roush Fenway’s fourth consecutive spring race win at the 2-mile oval, while Jimmie Johnson followed up his win in the fall race last year with a second-place run in his return to his home track. It was a long week for drivers, teams, and fans alike; but for some in particular, the weekend couldn’t have been any longer. At the same time, other drivers followed up great runs at Daytona with solid efforts again this week, becoming some of the select few happy to be in Ontario in the first place. To see who was basking in the California sun Monday afternoon and who simply couldn’t wait to get home, check out this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup.

Did You Notice? JJ Yeley vs. Kyle Busch? Good vs. Bad Teammates? Robby vs. Reality? & More

Did You Notice? That other than Jeff Gordon’s lucky break on the final lap, there were a total of zero engine failures at California Speedway Monday? It’s only the third time in the track’s history that’s happened; the lack of mechanical problems were especially notable in this case, considering there were all sorts of debris and dirt littering the track over the course of a wet weekend.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 Daytona 500 Edition

As the closing laps of the Daytona 500 came winding down, it was two drivers who hadn’t necessarily been contenders for the majority of the race who teamed up for a 1-2 finish. The Penske cars of Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman are obviously two of the hottest cars coming out of Daytona, but who else is satisfied with their performance in the Great American Race? Who is already behind the eight-ball after just one race? Come in and find out in this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup.

Bubble Breakdown: Brian Vickers Shines While Digging Out of Top-35 Hole… Wood Brothers Dig Themselves in Deeper

Early results are in, and there are some “locked-in” teams that will find themselves digging out of a hole in the next four races to work on keeping their status. Not only that, but teams outside the Top 35 started working hard to change that disadvantage for race six of this season — when the current owner points for 2008 will be used and allow them to sneak back into the race lineup. So, without further ado let’s check out our Top 35 results for this week — we’ll start with some of those cars “locked-in” but a little nervous about how it’s going to go this next month or two.

Bubble Breakdown: Previewing the 2008 Battle for the Top 35, Part II

Last week in this column, I talked about the teams on the outside of the Top 35 looking in. This week, I’m going to touch on some of the teams that wound up just inside the Top 35 last year. If past performance is any indication, they’re the ones most in jeopardy of being on the bubble this season; and with the competition closer than ever, I’ll rate the chances I think they’ll have at still being locked in by race six — or if they’re headed towards some frantic Friday afternoons instead.

Bubble Breakdown: Kyle Petty Locked In For First 5 Races of 2008; Dave Blaney 1 Week Away

Homestead was supposed to be the race that not only decided a razor-thin Chase battle, but a Top-35 trio ready to pull out all the stops to ensure a “locked-in” spot for 2008. Now, it seems as if both competitions will turn out to be anti-climactic. With an 86-point lead, Jimmie Johnson needs merely a mid-pack finish to clinch his second straight title; along those same lines, Dave Blaney and the No. 22 may merely need to come home in one piece to get the job done. With the BDR Camry leading the Wood Brothers No. 21 for the final locked-in spot for 2008, in addition to Johnson’s dominance over the rest of the Chase contenders in the past month.

Bubble Breakdown: Bill Elliott Takes Advantage of Blaney’s Misfortune, Helps Wood Brothers With Top 35

There may have been little change in the Top-35 picture this week as far as positions go – but just 40 laps into the race at Atlanta, the gap between 35th and 36th narrowed substantially. With an eventual “locked-in” spot for the first five races of 2008 on the line, engine problems struck Dave Blaney’s No. 22 on lap 39, bringing out the race’s second caution and moving Bill Elliott and the No. 21 team 56 points closer to the coveted bubble position. To see how close the No. 21 team is to Blaney, check out this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

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

Frontstretch