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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2009 Brickyard 400 Edition

With Doug Turnbull off this week, it’s time for the editing 1-2 punch of our own Tom Bowles and Mike Lovecchio to give you the latest trends in the Cup Series after the Brickyard. We might not have Doug’s usual commentary, but what we do know is which drivers are speeding back to Pocono on the fuel of a red-hot July… and which ones have invited winter into their lives about five months too soon. Read on to see who’s in position to nab a playoff spot or a pink slip heading towards the Dog Days of August in our latest edition of Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in Sprint Cup.

Sprint Cup Rookie Report: No Primary Engine? No Problem for Joey Logano at Indy

Despite the fact that he has never driven on this track before, Joey Logano and his Home Depot team appeared to hit the setup right from the start, as opposed to halfway through the event… which has been the case in most of his races so far in 2009. They picked a fine time to get it correct from the beginning, though, as a slow start from the end of the field translates into a very long day. This team has itself poised for a strong second-half run.

Bubble Breakdown: Scott Speed Wins the Indy Battle, But John Andretti Winning the War

Sunday, NASCAR traveled to the hallowed halls of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in their annual attempt to show that if you take 43 stock cars and put them at one of the greatest tracks in the entire world, you really don’t get very good racing. While a caution with 30 laps to go made for …

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Scott Speed Driver Diary: Getting Hitched, Danica & Racing with Kyle in Cars & on Dolphins!

First off, I have to say that things are going quite well in my first week of marriage. Amanda and I tied the knot over the off-weekend and everything worked out well. The weather was good, which was important because it was an outside ceremony. We’ll have to wait a little bit for our honeymoon …

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2009 Driver Report Cards, Part II: Grading Dale Jr. & 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.

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.

2009 Rookie Midseason Grades: Who’s Better, Keselowski, Logano or… Ambrose?

The Sprint Cup Series marked the season’s halfway point with an “off week” shortly thereafter, which gives Professor Lumbis a chance to take a breath and evaluate this year’s crop of rookies. It certainly has been an odd season for the 2009 freshman class, as we’ve seen wins, DNQs, “bubble trouble,” and even outside Chase …

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: “Rookies” Joey Logano, Marcos Ambrose Take Advantage of a Late-Race Shootout – Chicago Style

If there was an award given to the winner of the second half of races, Joey Logano would need a bigger trophy room. The youngster continues to improve on his communication with crew chief Greg Zipadelli, and the two have found ways to make significant strides in the handling of the No. 20 car throughout each race over the past two months. When this team finally finds a way to unload off the truck with a car that Logano likes, then we can start to expect them to fight for top 10s at the end of the race instead of trying to squeak out top 20s. Look for that to start happening in a few weeks when the series returns to tracks for a second time on a regular basis, meaning Zipadelli and company can use Logano’s 2009 notes instead of Tony Stewart’s setups from last year.

Bubble Breakdown: Late-Race Trouble Negates Good Efforts from Paul Menard & 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 …

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5 Points to Ponder: 2009 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona Edition

Back in February, a number of drivers complained about the abrasive racing surface at Daytona, saying it was triggering unnecessary crashes. I stated that I prefer the aged surface because it gives the track a type of character that you don’t see at a Talladega. After February, I felt I was in the minority with my opinion, but a live poll during the Frontstretch live blog proved me a wrong. A surprising 71% of our viewers said that they do not feel the track should be repaved, and I couldn’t agree more. Save the parade for Talladega and keep Daytona what it is – a demanding track where handling is at a premium.

Bubble Breakdown: Part-Time Schedule Yielding Big-Time Results for Furniture Row Racing

Rain washed out qualifying for Daytona last Friday, meaning the field was set by owner points. This was not good news for our bubble drivers, as the teams outside the Top 35 not only had to start at the rear of the field – they also had to do so in their qualifying setup, as …

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Rookies Run Well, But Only Marcos Ambrose Sealed the Deal in Daytona

While their finishes may not show it, all the rookies and almost rookies had impressive runs during the Coke Zero 400. Joey Logano continues to look more and more comfortable behind the wheel of these racecars, and he especially appears to be getting the hang of restrictor-plate racing. Of course, a little luck doesn’t hurt either. Logano was at the right place at the right time, which allowed him to miss two wrecks on Saturday. And even when Logano was in the wrong place at the wrong time, it could not have come at a better time – the very end of the race. When he is able to shed the yellow stripe next year and perhaps earn a dancing partner or two, Logano will certainly be a force at the superspeedways for years to come.

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