NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans: Can Dale Earnhardt Jr. Give the National Guard Back-to-Back Memorial Day Wins?

The Sprint Cup Series went from the gritty Darlington Raceway to the glitzy All-Star Race in the last two weeks; but now, it’s time to get down to business in the longest race of the year, the Coca-Cola 600. Sunday’s event will be a test of endurance for the drivers and crews, as they fight the change from racing in the daylight to finishing under the lights. But how will your fantasy team hold up during the year’s longest marathon? More than any other race, you need to build around not drivers who that not only finish first, but specialize in being around at the finish: consistency and durability in your lineup are the keys to coming out on top. So, which drivers will help you go the distance and have your team outlasting the competition, and which ones will fizzle out before the end? Read this week’s Picks ‘N’ Pans to find out.

Voices from the Heartland: Where to Hide or Find Your NASCAR-Themed Easter Eggs

Well folks, it’s that time of year again! It’s time to get creative and dye those Easter eggs! For all you hardcore NASCAR fans, I hope this week’s column will give you a few ideas on where to hide all those eggs that you actually put racecar numbers on. (Don’t be ashamed, everyone does it. It’s just that no one talks that much about it!) Plus, it’s a great way to familiarize all the young’uns with the current drivers and their sponsors. Going a step further, if you get those little tykes (and the grownups, too) reasoning out where they’re most likely to find, say, the No. 26 Crown Royal egg, you’re creating not only a fan, but a more intelligent fan at that!

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.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not: Outside the Chase After the 2007 UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega

With the spotlight on the top 12 drivers in the standings, it’s sometimes easy to forget that 31 others take to the track each weekend in pursuit of a long-sought after victory… but that’s what the purpose of this column is for. With another Chase race under our belts, it’s time to take a look at how some of the non-Chasers performed in Talladega this Sunday. The first Car of Tomorrow race at the superspeedway produced its share of opportunities for drivers looking to make a name for themselves; in the first three-quarters of the event, championship contenders steered themselves out of harm’s way, leaving their non-Chase brethren busy setting the pace up front. As the laps wound down, that pace picked up… but that doesn’t mean every man from the lead pack was forced to relinquish their spot to a driver fighting for a title. With that in mind, let’s take a look at Who’s Hot, and Who’s Not, Non-Chase style following the UAW-Ford 500…

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Nextel Cup: 2007 USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland

Chicago is known for football, deep-dish pizza, shopping, and the Sears Tower; sadly, it’s not yet known for great racing. However, there was at least one driver who didn’t sleep through the Chicagoland snoozefest; that would be Tony Stewart, who celebrated the end of his 20-race winless drought with another climb up the fence.

Mirror Driving: Does 1 Win Drive Hamlin to New Heights? Was Musgrave’s Suspension Right? & NASCAR Penalties – Too Much or Too Light?

With his win on Sunday, has Denny Hamlin vaulted into position to be Jeff Gordon’s most serious challenger for the championship? Or is someone else still in better shape?

Matt McLaughlin’s 2007 Fontana Spring Race Driver Handicaps

Jimmie Johnson: Johnson scored his first-ever Cup victory at Fontana back in 2002 (yes, kids, they were racing stock cars way back in 2002). In addition, Johnson has scored three runner-up finishes at California, one of them in this race last year. That’s a total of four first or seconds in eight career Cup starts …

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