NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Tag Archives: Paul Menard

Underdog Bubbles Burst While John Andretti Beats Scott Speed on Fuel Mileage

*Breaking Down The Bubble:* The last few weeks, John Andretti’s radio has been a little livelier than normal. Instead of just lap times and car positioning, John has been requesting to know where the No. 82 car is on the track. That's because Red Bull Toyota has beaten Andretti’s No. 34 Chevrolet the last three races, slowly closing the gap between the teams. This type of behavior is called "looking over your shoulder;" but as Speed applies more pressure, John will only be looking more and more. So to see if Speed did just that at Michigan, read on in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown. *Focusing on the bubble:* *Scott Speed and his No. 82 Red Bull Team* thoroughly dominated *John Andretti’s No. 34 Carfax Chevrolet* right up until two laps to go on Sunday afternoon.

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Bubble Breakdown: Tempers Flare Between David Stremme and Robby Gordon at Pocono

Rain forced the postponement of Sunday’s race until Monday afternoon, meaning there will be no bubble chatter this week as I had to work and therefore wasn’t able to listen to the in car radio communications during the event. I tried to get out early, but when I asked my boss if I could leave early to go home and watch the race he gave me the look that said get out of my office and go back to work, now. So I hid in a corner of the plant, huddled with a radio, listening to see if Scott Speed would make any headway into John Andretti’s hold on 35th, and if Robby Gordon would just plain lay one upside David Stremme’s head. So to see how the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 played out for our bubble teams, read on in this week’s edition of the bubble breakdown.

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Driver Report Cards, Part II: Grading Dale Jr. And The Rest

Continuing on from yesterday’s review, it’s time for Professors Danny and Tom to grade those drivers sitting at the back of the class. Whether it’s some bad racing luck, poor chemistry with a crew chief, or just plain awful driving, most of these guys from 21st on back have endured a season they’d like to forget. As the upcoming summer stretch heats up, those unlucky enough to be a part of this list won’t be fighting to make the Chase; instead, they’ll be working to save their jobs, explaining to unhappy sponsors and owners how things didn’t go as planned. But in the midst of this group are a handful of diamonds in the rough, wheelmen overachieving with single-car teams overmatched from the start against the multi-car powerhouses. Just which of these underdogs stood out above the rest? Read below to find out as our two-part midseason report card series comes to a close.

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Bubble Driver Review: David Ragan Biggest Disappointment Amongst This Group In 2009

Well, it’s that time of year where we look back at the first half of 2009 and grade our bubble teams. Keep in mind this report card is aimed at a specific subset inside the Cup garage -- those in and around the cutoff for the 35 "locked in" spots the series gives out each week -- and not the entire 43-car field. With that in mind, read on to see which of these struggling teams are actually overachieving with limited resources, as well as which ones are falling short of expectations as we take a closer look at the cars on the bubble 19 races into the season.

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Mirror Driving: Double-File Disaster?, Ford’s Floundering Season, And Gibbs Dominance… In Nationwide

*After several late incidents at Chicagoland Speedway, several drivers blamed the double-file restarts for the problem. Was it the rule or the drivers themselves at the root of the problems on Saturday night?* Kurt: No one knows how to handle it yet. Amy: Exactly. They need to settle down, take a deep breath and figure it out.

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Bubble Breakdown: Late Race Trouble Negates Good Efforts from Paul Menard and Brad Keselowski

News from the bubble this past week was dominated by the announcement from Michael Waltrip Racing, who not only re-signed primary sponsor NAPA to a multi-year deal but also upgraded the cockpit of the car by signing two-time Busch Series Champion and one-time Chase participant Martin Truex, Jr. for 2010. Waltrip will drive up to 12 races next season in a No. 55 Toyota, cutting back his schedule, while Truex will drive the full slate in the newly-renumbered No. 56 NAPA-sponsored car. Truex will also get the owner points that the No. 55 team earns in 2009, which means he will almost certainly have a guaranteed starting spot in the season’s first five races in 2010. So, with one of our bubble teams making improvements for next year, would any others step up and try to grab the limelight? Read on in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown for the Lifelock.com 400 from Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2009 Daytona Summer Speedweeks Edition

The July 4th bash at Daytona International Speedway literally ended with a bang, as Kyle Busch’s attempt at blocking Tony Stewart from taking the race win sent him bouncing off the frontstretch wall. While the finish stole the headlines, the plights of Chase-contending drivers permeated other post-race storylines. Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, David Reutimann, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, and Brian Vickers now sit in spots 11th thru 17th in points, and _all_ of them were involved at least somewhat in wrecks or spins Saturday night. At the same time, the race atop the point standings opened up, as Tony Stewart took the checkered flag and Jeff Gordon got caught in the first “Big One” early in the race. The ability of drivers in this wreck-filled race to bounce back into contention is a major factor in determining this week’s *HOT*, *WARM*, and *COLD* drivers.

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Did You Notice? Ganassi Kept The Wrong Guy, Logano’s A Little Too Shy, And Money Talks

*Did You Notice?* … That for all the Joey Logano hype, not everyone is jumping on the bandwagon quite yet? Certainly, Sunday’s race was a bonified step in the right direction for establishing the 19-year-old as a national superstar. But while Logano shattered the record for being the youngest race winner in NASCAR history, what we’ve yet to see from him – and what I’m excited to see develop – is his personality. What we’re witnessing, folks, for better or for worse is a driver who could very well turn out to be the dominant Sprint Cup force over the next decade. And because of that, it’s critically important that a sport more and more people are referring to as “vanilla” gets its next superstar packaged with a little extra spice of personality.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2009 Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at Loudon Edition

Now, we move on to this week’s matters… Joey Logano stole some history at New Hampshire on Sunday, becoming the youngest driver to win a Sprint Cup race by not pitting his No. 20 Home Depot Toyota during the last round of pit stops, taking a gamble and hoping for rain at his home track. Crew chief Greg Zipadelli’s decision quickly made up for Logano’s run-in with Ryan Newman, as well as the resulting flat tire and spin that resulted from it midway through the race. But while Logano's upset victory continues to be the big story, there were a few other upstart runs, as well, considering that rained-out qualifying placed the top points contenders in the top starting positions. And while few relinquished their top spots Sunday, there were some that broke through and in hopes of reversing their unlucky trends so far this season. Here are the *HOT*, *WARM*, and *COLD* drivers for this week… the first of the ten races that precede the advent of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

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Brad Keselowski Posts Top 10 Run… But It’s John Andretti Who Widens That Top 35 Gap

Several bubble teams made a little news this week most notably Michael Waltrip Racing who has scheduled a news conference for July 7th where it is expected that Martin Truex Jr. will be announced as the team’s new driver for 2010. Also in the news was Robby Gordon. The owner/driver for Robby Gordon Motorsports said he was dropping his appeal of the May 27th penalty levied against his team for exceeding the maximum specified toe of plus or minus one degree. Finally, after qualifying had been rained out the No. 64 Toyota entry of Gunselman Motorsports withdrew from the race having run just 14 practice laps. This enabled Furniture Row Racing’s No. 78 driven by Regan Smith to move up and into the starting grid, giving the young driver the opportunity to continue his 49 race streak of finishing every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race he has participated in.

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