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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Michael McDowell Has Magnificent Return With Career-Best Finish

There appears to be a new phenomena in NASCAR called the “Mike Skinner Effect.” For the second time this year, the veteran stepped in as an interim driver to help a struggling team, and it appears that he may be two for two in achieving success. Maybe it’s coincidence after all, but Michael Waltrip Racing had one of their best races as an organization following Skinner’s input; and next to David Reutimann, McDowell was the biggest beneficiary. Back in the spring, the rookie was an abysmal 40th after wrecking out at this track, so saying he’s improved since then would be an understatement. In this year of underachieving rookies, it could very well be McDowell who is positioning himself to steal the headlines in the final segment of this season.

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top-15 Free Agents For 2009

With the off week in full swing, it presented an opportunity for the Frontstretch experts to do something a little different. Instead of grading the Cup guys, we took a look at those drivers who often get shunned from the spotlight these days… the drivers exclusive to the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series desperate to make a name for themselves. These divisions are filled with established veterans and young guns mixed together to provide a cornucopia of driving talent. And since you never know when a Cup ride will become available… we thought it’s high time to figure out who’s proved himself most worthy of filling the spot as of late. Read on to see if your favorite non-Cup driver made the list in this special edition of the Top 15.

Voice of Vito: Toyota Ruling the Roost of NASCAR in Both Competition and Compelling Personalities

The New NASCAR: Some love it, others revile it, but everybody’s got an opinion. The Car of Tomorrow has its share of detractors and supporters, as does the television coverage and what has become the “over commercialization” of the sport in recent years (Which always strikes me as funny — here’s a sport that is based almost entirely on corporate America’s advertising and sponsorship dollars, and it’s accused of being over commercialized). Anyways, now that car brand identity has all but vanished, we are essentially watching 43 billboards race against the backdrop of a four-hour-long infomercial each week.

Tracking the Trucks: 2008 AAA Insurance 200 at Dover

Scott Speed took the checkered flag 3.379 seconds ahead of Jack Sprague to win the AAA Insurance 200 Friday night at Dover International Raceway. A two-tire pit stop with just 67 laps remaining helped Speed gain valuable track position and, ultimately, the win. Ron Hornaday Jr., Travis Kvapil, and Matt Crafton rounded out the top five.

Fanning the Flames: Fishin’ for Some Answers to Tony Stewart’s Likely Defection

Q: What are the odds that Rick Hendrick is able to put together NASCAR’s version of the “Dream Team” by adding Tony Stewart to his team of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson? In the big picture, would that team be good or bad for the sport?

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 Drivers Still Winless in NASCAR

With an off week in the schedule, the Frontstretch staffers decided to take a second look at a series of drivers looking for that lucky break. Our writers voted in the top 15 drivers who have never won a Sprint Cup race in their careers; and while these men might have been special in other forms of stock car racing, they were never special enough to make it to Victory Lane at the highest level (at least, not yet).

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Edition

With back-to-back top-10 finishes, Hamlin claims a spot on this week’s HOT list alongside JGR teammate Tony Stewart; but who else is deserving of the recognition? On the flip side, Michael McDowell had an impressive first two-thirds of the race, but received some criticism after the event for racing the leaders too hard in the closing laps. Where does the rookie fall after his debut start? Was he wrong or right? Check out this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup to find out.

Tearing Apart the Trucks: Heading Back East

As the drivers of the Craftsman Truck Series roll into Martinsville, Va., for the fourth race of the season it will mark the first time since the season opener at Daytona International Speedway that the Truck Series will have a full field for Saturday’s Kroger 250. The San Bernardino County 200 at Auto Club Speedway had a field of 35, just one short of a full field, but the American Commercial Lines 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway saw a field of only 32. Currently, there are 38 drivers entered for a field of 36 at the Virginia short track.

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 Drivers You Aren’t Seeing on Sunday

The first off week of the season allowed our staff to take a look at the other racing series that NASCAR has to offer; as such, they did a little ranking of some other drivers that the fans love to follow. Whether they are seasoned veterans in the waning years of their career, or young drivers who are trying to prove themselves, they were all considered for this poll of the best stock car driver without a full-time ride in the Sprint Cup Series. Check below to see if your budding superstar — or old favorite — made our list!

Tearing Apart the Trucks: 4 Reasons to Watch the Truck Series

Once again, Craftsman Truck Series fans have to wait another week to see anymore on track action when the series returns to the track next weekend at Martinsville Speedway. The ratings for the American Commercial Lines 200 a couple weeks ago in Atlanta showed a 31% jump, netting 753,000 households compared to the 565,000 for the same race in 2007. Despite climbing ratings reports, the truck series remains the least popular of NASCAR’s top three series. Inspired by a column earlier this week by fellow writer Danny Peters, I give you four reasons why you should watch the Truck Series.

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