NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2014 Auto Club 400 at Fontana

Key Moment – When five drivers lost tires between laps 193 and 197, a caution finally came out. All of the lead lap cars except for Landon Cassill hit pit lane. Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and Paul Menard took two tires, moving to the front while the remainder of lead-lap cars took four. In the …

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Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2013 Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas

Editor’s Note: Mike Neff is writing Matt’s column this week. The Key Moment – On the penultimate caution of the race, Matt Kenseth took fuel only while Kasey Kahne, who appeared to have the dominant car, took two tires and had to check up exiting his pit box. As a result, Kahne restarted sixth, had …

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Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2012 Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol

The latest “new” Bristol is still not the Bristol of old. But between the buzz, the wrecks and a decent crowd, the August night race resembled its former self for the first time since the pre-Chase era.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2012 Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan

If Michigan proved anything, it was that the best car doesn’t always win. Ask Jimmie Johnson. But if you have a great car, you can sometimes still make a statement, regardless of what the results sheet says. This week, Sam Hornish Jr. did just that, though he wound up 12th when the smoke cleared. Hornish, who is contending for the Nationwide Series championship, made the decision to stay in Montreal until the conclusion of that race, forgoing all practice for the Sprint Cup race (Parker Kligerman practiced and qualified the No. 22.). Starting at the back on Sunday, Hornish made quick work of most of the field, despite his lack of practice, charging to the front and looking like his lightning-fast No. 22 would be a contender for the win.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2012 Finger Lakes 355 at the Glen

Although Marcos Ambrose and Brad Keselowski were making the last lap at Watkins Glen one for the ages, another driver was quietly posting his team’s second top-five run of the year. Sam Hornish Jr. followed up his third-place finish in the Nationwide Series race on Saturday with a fifth-place run on Sunday. But the numbers don’t tell the whole tale. Because Hornish has an open wheel background, it’s often assumed that he has extensive road-course experience. But he doesn’t; Hornish’s three IZOD IndyCar Series titles came when the series ran almost exclusively on oval tracks. Hornish had just 11 road-course starts under his belt when he made the move to NASCAR.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2012 VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 at Darlington

Talk about quiet. Sam Hornish Jr. is quiet off the track, and on Friday night, he slipped under the radar until the end. But that’s where the quiet ended, as Hornish waged a furious battle with Austin Dillon for a fourth-place finish, beating Dillon by inches at the line. Hornish is showing steady improvement after being given a chance to start over in the Nationwide Series after a less-than-stellar couple of years in a Sprint Cup car. If he continues to race like he did on Friday, he’ll have another chance in Cup… and this time he’ll be ready.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2012 Aaron’s 499 at Talladega

One sure way to make people mad at you at a restrictor-plate race is to throw an ill-timed block. It’s by no means a dirty move; it’s instinctually trying to protect position. But the danger lies in the act that there’s a split-second window in which to make the move work. This week, AJ Allmendinger tried to throw a block at Denny Hamlin after that window had already closed. The ensuing multi-car crash ended the hopes of a dozen other teams. It wasn’t the only wreck of the day, but it was the most preventable.

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2011 Phoenix Fall Race Recap

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Kasey Kahne elected to pit early for his final stop. Meanwhile, Carl Edwards was leading the race but ran up on his old buddy Brad Keselowski, who was trying not to get lapped (and perhaps sending some subtle payback Edwards’ way.) By the time the No. 99 abandoned the effort to pass the No. 2, Edwards had given up too much time to Kahne.

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