Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Five Questions After ... Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500





In the spirit of the rained out race at Martinsville Speedway, I’m doing the 5 questions a day late! Better late than never, right? Anyways, if you didn’t enjoy the race this weekend (or Monday), you need to check your heart rate! Arguably the best racing since the Daytona 500, no one was really sure who was going to win the race until the checkered flag flew. Let’s be honest here: Nobody really thought Denny Hamlin was going to be able to win that race. Even watching the replay, I’m not really sure how he pulled it off. However, it was a ton of fun to watch and we can only hope to see more of that in the upcoming races!




What was Mike Ford thinking? … The argument that was used by Mike Ford and Hamlin after the race was, no matter what, the other leaders were going to do what they didn’t. While there may be a bit of truth to that was it really worth the risk of starting way back in the field with new tires? Hamlin already had a dominant car. With Jeff Burton out of the way due to a flat tire, Hamlin most likely could have pulled away on the restart. It’s highly unlikely that every driver behind Hamlin would have pitted, and no one had a car good enough to do what Hamlin did. He would have been long gone on that restart before anyone with new tires had a chance to get to him. In the end, though, it doesn’t matter. They won either way. But Hamlin had better thank his lucky stars for the double-file restarts; otherwise that victory wouldn’t have happened. With Hamlin recovering from surgery due to a torn ACL, it may be the last one for a while.



Will Kenseth hold a grudge? … Yes, I know Kenseth bumped Gordon out of the way first. However, Kenseth got the raw end of the deal after Gordon punted him out of the way. He finished 18th. Gordon finished 3rd. These two have had issues in the past. Though it’s highly unlikely we’ll see them killing each other for 8th place at Phoenix, we might not see any give and take the next time they’re going for the victory.



How many people called in sick to stay for the race? … Those stands were pretty full for a Monday race! I’m sure all of a sudden there was an outbreak of the flu, and most of it seemed to be coming from the Martinsville area. Go figure. It was very promising, though, to be able to hear the crowd cheering when there really shouldn’t have been a crowd at all. Oh, sure, attendance was probably down from Sunday to Monday. But there were still enough fans in the stands to show NASCAR that race fans are still as dedicated as ever.



Where was Jimmie Johnson all day? … It’s normal for us to ask that question during the race. But afterwards, everyone is normally asking “Where did Jimmie Johnson come from?” But Johnson hardly made any noise at Martinsville. He ran in the top five for a while, but never really challenged for the win. He said after the race they were trying some new setups for the Chase. I guess they know what NOT to do when they come back here in the fall.



Where did Joey Logano come from? … Well, someone had to fill in. The guy finished second! I’d tell you where he was running all day, but I have no clue. Logano didn’t necessarily have a good track record previous to Sunday. Nobody expected him to be up there at the end of the race. He had the 8th best average running position, which was 11th, so apparently he was running around up there for a while. Somehow he managed to get a runner-up finish out of it. If you watch the last few laps, all he really did was follow his teammate to the front. It was pretty slick. We may not have seen the last of Sliced Bread after all.





Bonus questions: When will the old man stop snoring during NASCAR races? … Is Jimmie’s 9th place finish really a “slump”? … Does Marcos Ambrose now have more enemies than friends?


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Photo courtesy of NASCARMedia. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Roush Rewind: Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500

Martinsville Speedway isn’t exactly a track the Roush Fenway Racing drivers are known for performing well at, but that all changed during the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500, which had to be run on Monday after heavy rains forced NASCAR to postpone the race on Sunday. The Roush drivers performed better than expected on Monday, with all 4 finishing inside the top 20.

Matt Kenseth seemed to have the best car of all the Roush drivers on Monday. Kenseth started 2nd in the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford due to rain cancelling qualifying on Friday and the field being set according to the point standings. He remained in 2nd as Kevin Harvick began to pull away from the field for the first few laps. Around lap 20, Kenseth radioed to crew chief Todd Parrott that the car was tight in the center of the turns. The caution that came out on lap 42 allowed Kenseth to pit for four tires, fuel, and the adjustments his car needed. He restarted third after that stop, but the handling of his racecar still wasn’t to his liking. When the second caution of the day came out on lap 64, Parrott told Kenseth to stay out. When the third caution came out shortly afterward, Kenseth pitted, but many of the field had pitted under the previous caution. He would have to restart 33rd. Kenseth charged to the front and was 18th by lap 150. On lap 165, Kenseth made a two tire stop and went from 11th to 7th, putting him back into contention for the win. During the last caution of the race, Kenseth stayed out and restarted 3rd for the green-white-checkered finish attempt. Jeff Gordon led the field to green for the last time, and Kenseth dove underneath him and bumped him up the track to take the lead. Gordon, unhappy about the contact from Kenseth, bumped Kenseth back and sent him up the track. The contact from Gordon costed Kenseth the win, and he ultimately ended up 18th when all was said and done. Kenseth dropped from 2nd to 3rd in the point standings.

David Ragan was forced to start 27th in the No. 6 UPS Ford after qualifying was rained out. Ragan felt he had a car that was capable of qualifying well ahead of 27th, and his lap times in practice proved he did. However, Ragan had only managed to gain 4 spots by the time the first caution came out on lap 42. The handling on his car caused problems for Ragan, and he pitted for four tires, fuel, and a track bar adjustment. Ragan pitted again during the second caution of the day to once again let his crew take a swing at the car’s handling. Nearly every restart, it seemed that Ragan had to fight his car to get going. He would lose a few spots, then once the car came to him, he would start gaining the positions back. For the majority of the race Ragan was anywhere between 18th and 22nd position. It seemed like no matter what his crew did, his racecar’s handling would not improve. The handling issue could have been what caused Ragan to get into teammate Carl Edwards while attempting to pass him for position shortly before the race reached halfway. Despite all his struggles, Ragan had worked his way up to 12th on the final restart of the race. It’s typical for restarts at Martinsville to cause the field to get jumbled up, and the last restart was no exception. Ragan had to work around the traffic jam on the last restart and lost a few positions. He crossed the line in the 16th position. Despite getting a good finish, Ragan still didn’t climb in the point standings and is tied for 27th with Brad Keselowski.

Greg Biffle started 4th in the No. 16 Census 2010/3M Ford. Saturday’s practice had Biffle and his team confident the car would handle well during the race. However, when Monday rolled around, Biffle found himself driving a racecar that was hard to handle. By the time the first caution came out, Biffle had fallen from 4th to 27th. The 3M Pit Bulls made wedge and air pressure adjustments to Biffle’s car to try and improve the handling. Biffle had worked his way back inside the top 20 when he started saying the handling of his racecar was going away. On lap 162, Biffle made contact with Marcos Ambrose and spun out, bringing out the caution. With only minor damage to his racecar, Biffle restarted 25th after that. Biffle pitted under the caution that was brought out on lap 234. He was 17th when he pitted and was 16th off pit road, but a speeding penalty forced him to restart 26th. Biffle made his way through the field and was sitting in 15th position for the green-white-checkered attempt. He was able to gain five spots to finish 10th when the checkered flag waved. That was Biffle’s 6th consecutive top-ten finish this season. He is currently 2nd in the point standings behind Jimmie Johnson.

Carl Edwards started Monday’s race 13th in the No. 99 Aflac Ford. Edwards dealt with a tight racecar for the first of the race and pitted under the first caution of the day for four tires, fuel, and an air pressure adjustment. He restarted 11th and seemed to be mired between 11th and 14th for quite a while once the field was under green again. The tight condition of Edwards’s racecar continued to be an issue, but crew chief Bob Osborne kept telling Edwards to hit his marks and they would get back the positions they’d lost after Edwards had fallen to 20th after being caught up in traffic around lap 190. When teammate David Ragan got into him shortly afterward, Edwards got annoyed with his teammate and did return the favor when Ragan took the position from him. Osborne had to radio to his driver to “let it go. We’ll get that spot back. Just stay focused.” Edwards remained silent on the radio for a few laps and did as his crew chief said. He soon found himself getting around Ragan and making a charge for the top ten. Edwards was sitting in 9th position for the green-white-checkered attempt. He managed to gain one more position to finish 8th when the checkered flag waved. Despite the top ten finish, Edwards lost a spot in the standings and is currently 14th.

While the Roush Fenway Racing drivers performed well on Monday, it was a late-charging Denny Hamlin who took advantage of Gordon and Kenseth’s run-in with 2 laps remaining to take the checkered flag. It was a spectacular finish that left many people asking, “What just happened?”. Congratulations to Denny Hamlin and the No. 11 crew!

Next up: Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway

Connecting with the fans: Hamlin's loved ones give surgery updates through Twitter


If you weren't sure about the effect social media has had on the spread of NASCAR news, then you weren't on Twitter during Denny Hamlin's knee surgery.

Instead of waiting to hear the outcome from a reporter or a statement from Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR fans on Twitter received updates from Hamlin's mother, Mary Lou Hamlin, and girlfriend, Jordan Fish, during and after his surgery Wednesday morning.

At around 7 a.m. EST, Mary Lou Hamlin tweeted:

11mommalou: "Denny's getting ready for surgery. Will start shortly. Surgery will take approx 1 hour"

Dr. Patrick Connor with OrthoCarolina near Charlotte, N.C., performed the procedure to repair a torn ACL in Hamlin's left knee. The driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota sustained the injury during a game of pickup basketball in January.

Hamlin had been hoping to postpone the surgery until after the season, but elected to have the surgery this week instead of risking further damage. Hamlin said his knee ached following the March 21 Bristol race.

As they sat in the waiting room, Hamlin's mother and girlfriend shared the experience with NASCAR fans by tweeting photos of each other, Hamlin's father Dennis and best friend/manager Austin Peyton.

At around 9 a.m. ET, Marylou Hamlin tweeted that Hamlin's team owner, Joe Gibbs, had stopped by the hospital to wait with the group. Shortly after, she tweeted the first update on Hamlin's condition:

11mommalou: Doc just came out and said everything went fine. Meniscus (?)Didn't hav to take out so that was good. Will b in recov an hour or so.

Many likely gave a sigh of relief upon hearing the news. Hamlin's mother was referring to a meniscus, the tissue in the cartilage of the knee joint that provides structural integrity to the knee. Hamlin's was left intact.

As Hamlin's loved ones continued to wait, his girlfriend Fish let fans in on two more visitors: J.D. Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing, and Dave Alpern, vice president of marketing, had brought a life-size No. 11 bear to the hospital. Fish posted some photos of the bear, which seemed to take on a life of its own in the waiting room.

jordan_fish: Nurse came out, she asked what the bear's name was "he said we don't know, he's sleepy right now.. Well ask him when he wakes up" hahaha

It was an hour or so later when Mary Lou Hamlin tweeted that it "will probably b another 30-45 min b4 we can go back to see him." She let another Twitter user know that Joe and J.D. Gibbs and Alpern had left the hospital. Still waiting with Mary Lou were her husband, Fish and Peyton.

The Sprint Cup Series is off this week because of the Easter holiday, giving Hamlin more time to recover before the Phoenix race on April 10. Hamlin is planning to run the race, but Casey Mears will be on standby for Phoenix as well as the next several races.

At About 11 a.m. ET, Hamlin's mother tweeted:

11mommalou: Just talked to doc again everything fine.Getting denny ready to leave to go home

And from his girlfriend:

jordan_fish: Just saw him.. Everything went well.. Denny is doin fine, just a lil sore and groggy, thanks for keeping him in your thoughts and prayers!

All this at least an hour before Joe Gibbs Racing had posted on their Web site that Hamlin's surgery had been a success.

Mary Lou Hamlin and Jordan Fish used Twitter to do something extraordinary on Wednesday: reach out to fans of Denny Hamlin to let them know their driver was OK. There was no middleman, which would usually be a reporter or a PR representative. When Hamlin's loved ones found out the news, so did the fans - updates from the sources themselves in real time. By sharing their experience on Twitter, they invited fans into the waiting room with them.

It's been said that NASCAR drivers and their fans have a special relationship, different from that in other sports. After today, I'm sure Denny Hamlin fans would agree.

Photo: Denny Hamlin in the garage at Martinsville this weekend. (Geoff Burke / Getty Images for NASCAR)

TV Schedule April 1-3


Because of the Easter holiday, the Sprint Cup Series is taking a breather. But fortunately for NASCAR fans, the Nationwide and Camping World World Truck series will be in full swing this weekend at Nashville Superspeedway. The 1.333-mile oval, built in 2000, is one of only three concrete tracks on the NASCAR circuit.

Nashville will celebrate its 10th season with a doubleheader of racing, a first for the track: the Nashville 200 Truck race on Friday and the Nashville 300 Nationwide race on Saturday. The winner of each race will rock out in Victory Lane with a Sam Bass signature Gibson guitar. Will we see a repeat of Kyle Busch's "smashing" celebration from last season? Tune in to find out.

Only the Truck and Nationwide races will be televised this weekend, not practice nor qualifying sessions. The days and times for each series' practices and qualifying have been included in the schedule below for those fans who may wish to log onto Twitter or NASCAR.com for updates.

Also included in the schedule is SPEED's airing of the season-opening race of the K&N Pro Series East Series, formerly the Camping World East Series, on Thursday. The race was run March 27 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina.

Here's a schedule of track events and TV coverage of NASCAR events this weekend (all times in Eastern Standard Time. Channel has been included for those events that will be televised. Note: The live broadcast of the Nationwide race is on ESPN this weekend):

Thursday, April 1:
6:00 p.m. NASCAR K&N Pro Series at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, SPEED

Friday, April 2:
11 a.m. Truck practice
12:30 p.m. Truck final practice
3:30 p.m. Nationwide practice
5 p.m. Truck qualifying
6:30 p.m. Nationwide final practice
7:30 p.m. Truck Series SetUp, SPEED (reruns at midnight)
8:00 p.m. Truck Series: Nashville 200, SPEED.Green flag: 8:19 p.m. (reruns at 12:30 a.m.)

Saturday, April 3:
12 noon Nationwide qualifying (click here to follow NASCAR.com's leaderboard)
3:30 p.m. Nationwide Countdown presented by Hellmann's, ESPN
4:00 p.m. Nationwide: Nashville 300, ESPN. Green flag: 4:16 p.m. (reruns at 12:30 a.m. on ESPN2)

PHOTOS FROM NASCAR MEDIA

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nationwide Insurance Dash 4 Cash: How it Works

nw_nascar_dash4cash_r6a

If you tuned in to the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2009 you no doubt heard about the “Dash 4 Cash” Program. The program has returned in 2010 and the first race where it’s available is coming up this weekend at Nashville.

In case your aren’t familiar with the program here’s how it works.


Program Summary
  • Created in 2009 and designed to increase the on-track excitement for the drivers and the fans, the Nationwide Insurance Dash 4 Cash is a bonus program implemented to develop and support NASCAR Nationwide Series regulars, up-and-comers and those who compete part –time in the Series
  • NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers must compete in every NASCAR Nationwide Series event in order to qualify for the individual race payouts
  • Increased 2010 year-end bonus award by 50%, totally $75,000
Dash 4 Cash Schedule
  • Nashville Superspeedway April 3
  • Kentucky Motor Speedway June 12
  • Iowa Speedway July 31
  • Texas Motor Speedway November 6
Bonus Structure
  • $25,000 cash bonus awarded to eligible race winner of the four Dash 4 Cash races *****Should winner not be eligible, the prize money will roll over to next Dash 4 Cash race*****
  • $75,000 year-end bonus awarded at the end of the season to the NASCAR Nationwide Series only driver with the highest number of cumulative points from these four races
  • NASCAR drivers who compete in more than 7 Sprint Cup races during the season are not eligible for the end of season bonus (even if you run all NNS races)
Previous Winners

· Brad Keselowski swept the 2009 Dash 4 Cash program collecting $100,000 during the regular season and the $50,000 year-end bonus
  • Nashville Superspeedway Joey Logano $0 (not eligible)
  • Kentucky Motor Speedway Joey Logano $0 (not eligible)
  • Iowa Speedway Brad Keselowski $75,000
  • Memphis Motorsports Park Brad Keselowski $25,000

Dollar General to Sponsor KBM #18 at Nashville Truck Series Race

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (March 30, 2010) – Dollar General, the nation’s largest small-box retailer, will sponsor Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) Toyota Tundra in Friday night’s 200-mile NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, Tenn.

The one-race sponsorship will give Dollar General a solid presence at Nashville as they also sponsor Braun Racing full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Reed Sorenson will pilot the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota for Braun Racing on Saturday afternoon at the 1.33-mile oval.

Dollar General and Busch have plenty of history together, as Busch drove Braun Racing’s No. 32 Dollar General Toyota to victory in the May 2008 Nationwide Series race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. The Las Vegas native has more than 60 wins in NASCAR’s top three divisions, including three Nationwide Series races where Dollar General served as race sponsor (October 2008 at Charlotte; July 2008 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.; and October 2009 at Charlotte).

“This is a unique and exciting opportunity for us to partner with Kyle for the Nashville Truck Series race,” said Jim Thorpe, senior vice president and general merchandise manager for Dollar General. “We’ve worked with Kyle before when he won a race for us at Braun Racing and we’ve seen him in victory lane several times when we’ve sponsored races that he’s won. This will be a great weekend for Dollar General and all our employees and partners. We get to root for Kyle Friday night and then cheer on Reed and the Braun Racing team on Saturday. We’ve got a great relationship with Braun and getting to work with Kyle is just an added bonus.”

The 200-mile race at Nashville will be the fourth for Busch as driver/owner for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He and Brian Ickler split time in the No. 18 Toyota Tundra, while 21-year old Tayler Malsam drives the No. 56 Toyota Tundra full-time for KBM.

“We’re really happy to have Dollar General on board for Nashville,” said Busch, who has 16 career victories in the Camping World Truck Series. “We were able to put them in victory lane in 2008 in the Nationwide Series race at Charlotte and we’d love to get them a win at Nashville. I’ve haven’t won at Nashville in the Truck Series, so it’d be great to get a win for myself and for Dollar General.”

The 130-lap race at Nashville begins at 8 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on SPEED beginning with a pre-race show at 7:30 p.m.

Recap and Results: Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 (NSCS – Martinsville)

2010 Martinsville Mar NSCS Denny Hamlin Victory Lane

(March 29, 2010) - MARTINSVILLE, Va.—

Mr. Martinsville is dead.

Long live Mr. Martinsville!

Denny Hamlin plowed through traffic after a green-white-checkered-flag restart Monday to post his second straight victory at Martinsville Speedway, wresting the title “Mr. Martinsville”—at least temporarily—from Jimmie Johnson, who rode a nondescript ninth-place finish to the NASCAR Sprint Cup points lead.

On fresh tires, thanks to a pit stop under caution on Lap 493, Hamlin powered past Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon on Lap 507 of 508 after Kenseth and Gordon traded shots earlier on the same lap.


Hamlin cleared Gordon’s Chevrolet through Turns 3 and 4 and finished the race on a cut tire, .670 seconds ahead of teammate Joey Logano, who weaved his way through the melee to give Joe Gibbs Racing a 1-2 finish at the .526-mile short track.

“Whose house is this?” Hamlin radioed after taking the checkered flag.

“Denny Hamlin’s house,” spotter Curtis Markham answered.

Gordon finished third after leading the field to the Lap 507 restart. Newman ran fourth and Martin Truex Jr. fifth.

The race was delayed by one day because of rain. So was Hamlin’s surgery, originally scheduled for Monday, to repair a torn ACL in his left knee, the result of a pickup basketball injury two months ago.

Though Hamlin is eager to get the operation behind him, he savored Monday’s victory, the ninth of his career.

“This is probably the most gratifying win I’ve had, simply because we came through adversity so many times, whether it be because of pit road (dropping the jack too soon on an early pit stop) or that dash at the end,” said Hamlin, 29. “We just flat out drove through ’em at the end and got the win. I’m not sure we’ve gotten a win like this before.”

A late call for four tires put that win in jeopardy. Hamlin, who led a race-high 172 laps, had a lead of 2.7 seconds when Jeff Burton blew a tire on Lap 491 and caused the 12th caution of the race. Hamlin and teammate Kyle Busch, who was running second, came to the pits for tires, handing the lead to Gordon.

Hamlin restarted ninth on Lap 497 and quickly made his way toward the front, knocking off two cars with a harrowing three-wide pass in Turn 1. Hamlin was fourth when Busch spun in Turn 3 after contact with Paul Menard’s Ford on Lap 499 and brought out the final caution, with Gordon tantalizingly close to the start-finish line and his first victory since April 2009 at Texas.

If NASCAR calls a caution after the leader takes the white flag—which signals the final lap—the field is frozen as it runs. Gordon was within 30 yards of the flag when caution flew for Busch’s wreck.

“We were a hundred feet away from getting that white flag, getting the victory,” Gordon said. “So that’s frustrating. But I shouldn’t be too upset. We were a third-place car before that, and we finished third.

“I’m not exactly sure what happened on that last restart. I got an OK restart. Spun the tires a little bit, got going. I looked at my mirror, (and the) 17 (Kenseth) was pretty far behind me. … Next thing I know, I got nailed. I don’t know who got into me. I thought it was the 17. If it wasn’t, I apologize to him. I made sure he didn’t win the race down the straightaway.”

In fact, after Kenseth bumped Gordon’s Chevrolet in the corner, Gordon rubbed Kenseth’s Ford down the backstretch and sent him high into Turn 3. Kenseth finished 18th after most of the lead-lap cars streamed past him.

Recap by Reid Spencer of Sporting News Wire Service


For more detailed looks of individual drivers be sure to  check out the Skirts and Scuffs Rewind Posts for Martinsville. We’ve got lots of coverage.

Final Results:
  1. Denny Hamlin
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Jeff Gordon
  4. Ryan Newman
  5. Martin Truex Jr.
  6. Brian Vickers
  7. Clint Bowyer
  8. Carl Edwards
  9. Jimmie Johnson
  10. Greg Biffle
  11. Marcos Ambrose
  12. Brad Keselowski
  13. Sam Hornish Jr.
  14. Paul Meanrd
  15. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  16. David Ragan
  17. Kasey Kahne
  18. Matt Kenseth
  19. David Gilliland
  20. Jeff Burton
  21. Mark Martin
  22. Kyle Busch
  23. Kurt Busch
  24. Elliott Sadler
  25. Mike Bliss
  26. Tony Stewart
  27. Travis Kvapil
  28. David Reutimann
  29. Bobby Labonte
  30. Jamie McMurray
  31. Kevin Conway
  32. Regan Smith
  33. Scott Speed
  34. Robby Gordon
  35. Kevin Harvick
  36. Juan Pablo Montoya
  37. David Stremme
  38. AJ Allmendinger
  39. Joe Nemechek
  40. Max Papis
  41. Aric Almirola
  42. Dave Blaney
  43. Michael McDowell

NASCAR Issue of TV Guide Hits Newsstands Today

2010 Collector’s Issue, Produced by the Editors of TV Guide Magazine in Association with NASCAR, Hits Newsstands Today
88 Pages of Expert Insight, a Must-Have Guide for Every NASCAR Fan
Part of TV Guide Magazine’s Series of Special Interest Publications


TV_Guide-logo-F169A19ABF-seeklogo.com (NEW YORK, NY) March 30, 2010 TV Guide Magazine has partnered with NASCAR to create the TV Guide Magazine: NASCAR Special Collector’s Issue, the ultimate must-have collector’s guide for every NASCAR fan. The 88-page, special interest publication will be sold online and on newsstands for two months beginning today, March 30.

Capitalizing on the magazine’s unrivaled 50-plus years of television content, the TV Guide Magazine: NASCAR Special Collector’s Issue will feature unique content from NASCAR journalists, insider access, unparalleled insight, and the latest up-to-the-minute information and news features on NASCAR.

Fans can purchase the issue at stores nationwide for $6.99. The guide is also available now on NASCAR.com’s Superstore for $7.99 or free with a $50.00 purchase.

“We are pleased to produce this special issue in association with NASCAR,” said David J. Fishman, TV Guide Magazine. “NASCAR is a strong brand with a loyal and vast community of fans that make the sport the second highest rated regular-season sport on television. TV Guide Magazine’s latest special interest publication ensures that all NASCAR enthusiasts are tuned in to the most up-to-date and insider news available.”

“Our sport works hard to deliver the very best television programming, production, world-class broadcast partners and resources to best serve our fans, sponsors and continued growth,” said Paul Brooks, NASCAR senior vice president and president of NASCAR Media Group. “As fans ourselves, we know this is all about capturing the amazing racing that NASCAR drivers deliver every week for our fans. This TV Guide Magazine NASCAR issue is a terrific resource for our fans to further enjoy great racing every week, as well as unprecedented hours of programming now available every day of the year. We are proud of our partnership with TV Guide Magazine who remains a welcome friend and American institution.”


TV Guide Magazine: NASCAR Special Collector’s Issue offers fans the latest on the 62nd season, including:
  • It’s Showtime! – The first behind-the-scenes look at Showtime’s eye-opening new series, Inside NASCAR.The new weekly series delivers fast-paced, inside-the-cockpit commentary from the sleekest set yet. Take a look at what’s in store and meet the all-star talent set for center stage.
  • Get With the Program – Season predictions from FOX, ESPN, TNT, SPEED, and BET’s on-air experts.
  • Catching Up With the Past – The NASCAR Hall of Fame salutes 60 years of legends, history and spectacular success on a road well-traveled. Get the first detailed look at the soon-to-open NASCAR Hall of Fame.
  • Leaders of the Track – Who are the top 25 best NASCAR Spring Cup Series racers?
  • Rush to Judgment – Get the latest road map to success in the 2010 chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. A graphic and statistical overview of each of the top 25 drivers in the Sprint Cup Series.
  • On Tracks – Take a look at the venues that power the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. An overview of each of the NASCAR track venues, with insider map information.
  • Jr.’s Season on the Brink – Dale Earnhardt Jr. is driving to win again, and putting last year’s struggles in the rearview mirror. An in-depth look at what Dale Jr. and his fans expect this season.
  • Switching Gears – A special look at the debut of Danica Patrick on the stock car scene. Can the Indy sensation generate the same heat in NASCAR?
  • Complete Racing Schedules – Details on all NASCAR television coverage.
  • And much, much more!
This collector’s issue is the fourth in a series of comprehensive and definitive single-topic, special interest publications that TV Guide Magazine creates for fans of era-defining TV shows and events, high-profile actors and actresses, and pop culture icons. Previous special interest issues included publications devoted to Michael Jackson, Law & Order, andSpongeBob SquarePants.


About TV Guide Magazine
TV Guide Magazine is one of the most popular weekly magazines in the country with more than 20 million weekly readers. From behind-the-scenes looks at broadcast, cable, and syndicated shows and their stars and characters, to sneak peeks at television’s most intriguing plotlines, TV Guide Magazine has every corner of the television medium covered. TV Guide Magazine is the premier source for entertainment news, guidance, and information about America’s most popular leisure time activity. Its website, tvguidemagazine.com, ignites conversation and builds community around America's #1 leisure activity with our exclusive behind-the-scenes access, authoritative insight, breaking news and reviews. tvguidemagazine.com guides viewers to the best of television, covering the shows and the moments everyone will be talking about, and empowers readers to make informed decisions, maximizing their viewing experience. For more information, please visit www.tvguidemagazine.com.


About TV Guide Magazine Special Interest Publications
TV Guide Magazinehas leveraged a combination of its team of respected television experts, vast connections in the industry and unparalleled access to launch a series of comprehensive and definitive single-topic, special interest publications for 2009 and beyond. The winners will be fans of era-defining shows and events, high-profile actors and actresses, and pop culture icons. Capitalizing on the magazine’s unrivaled 50-plus year archive of entertainment content and coverage of current TV, each listings-free special issue is devoted entirely to up-to-the-minute information, unique insights, and an authoritative voice and perspective on television that only TV Guide Magazine can provide.


About NASCAR
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for one of North America's     premier sports.  NASCAR is the No. 1 spectator sport – with more of the top 20 highest attended sporting events in the U.S. than any other sport, and is the No. 2 rated regular-season sport on television. NASCAR races are broadcast in more than 150 countries and in 20 languages. NASCAR fans are the most brand loyal in all of sports, and as a result more Fortune 500 companies participate in NASCAR than any other sport.

NASCAR consists of three national series (the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series), four regional series, and one local grassroots series, as well as two international series.  Also part of NASCAR is Grand-Am Road Racing, known for its competition on road courses with multiple classes of cars. NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races at 100 tracks in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada and Mexico. Based in Daytona Beach (Fla.), NASCAR has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Charlotte (N.C.), Concord (N.C.), Conover (N.C.), Bentonville (Ark.), Mexico City, and Toronto.

Tony Stewart has a Long Martinsville Day on a Short NASCAR Track

Tony Stewart and Crew Chief Darian Grubb had an all-day battle trying to get the No. 14 Chevrolet right during the rain-delayed Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville. In the end, the car did not respond and Stewart finished 26th.

Stewart started in the fifth spot and by lap 34 had moved up to second and looked very strong. After that, however, every adjustment that was made to the car just made things worse. Working to reverse the changes did not help either.

Stewart continued to lose positions and once in traffic on the short track, he was not able to move back up through the field.

“The first 40 laps, we were the fastest car out there and got up to second,” Grubb said. “After that, I don’t have a clue what happened. We tried to make changes to make the car turn better and everything we did made the car tighter. We started undoing all of our adjustments and we got it a little
better, but by that time we had already lost track position and were losing laps. I’ve never made that many adjustments on a racecar, so we were obviously way, way off.”

Denny Hamlin won the race after a late race pit stop for tires and a caution with two laps to go gave him the breaks he needed to pull off the win.

Cars are idle during Martinsville rain delay
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR


Ryan Newman Gets Season-Best Fourth Place Finish at Martinsville

Ryan Newman got his best finish of the season Monday when he came home fourth in the Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville.  The good finish could have been even better, however, had it not been for a late caution flag.

Newman was following leader Jeff Gordon, in sight of the white flag, when a caution came out and changed the outcome of the race.  Newman probably could not have caught Gordon but would almost certainly have ended the race second.

When the race restarted, Denny Hamlin came up through the field on fresher tires and pushed Newman out of the way.  Matt Kennseth pushed Gordon aside and opened the door for Hamlin to grab the victory.

Newman moved up four spots in the NASCAR standings to 22nd.  The Sprint Cup drivers will take the coming weekend off for the Easter break and return on April 10 at Phoenix.

Ryan Newman gets fourth place finish at Martinsville as Denny Hamlin grabs the win


Monday, March 29, 2010

The Lugnut Report: Joey Logano's Quiet Day Leads to Second Place Finish



























Joey Logano has only had two starts at Martinsville Speedway, and the rookie no more 19 year old is showing steady improvements.

Monday's Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 was absolutely one of those days.

Logano was barely noticable during the first 300 laps of the race, steadily and quietly battling his way through the top ten.

The Home Depot driver failed to crack the top five, and seemed to be stuck racing for positions sixth through eighth. It was only until six laps until the finish that Logano made his way into the fifth position.

Then things began to get interesting.

Logano's teammate Denny Hamlin made a pit stop from the lead on lap 493. After the lap 496 restart and following caution, Hamlin was counting on his young teammate to let him down to the bottom line so he could charge to the front.

Logano made a hole for Hamlin in front of him and behind the No. 17 of Matt Kenseth. The No. 20 Home Depot Toyota followed his teammate and kept former seven time Martinsville winner Jeff Gordon at bay. While Hamlin would drive his way to Victory Lane, Logano basked in the glory of his second place finish.

"That was awesome!" Logano exclaimed about the green white checkered finish. "That was really cool, and the big deal for me with the Home Depot Toyota was starting on the bottom.

"It was kind of beating and banging, it was a ton of fun! After the last couple of weeks to get a top five back up here, it's so much fun to race up here."

Later in the media center, the young gun reiterated the excitement of that final restart.

"It was crazy. We knew it was going to be crazy before we went green."

The next time JoLo will be on track is this coming Saturday at Nashville, where he'll compete in the Nationwide Series Nashville 300. You can watch that race beginning at 3:30 PM ET on ESPN.


For Patti Rodisch's Lugnut Report on Jeff Gordon, click here.

The Lugnut Report: Jeff Gordon Nearly Wins, but Finishes Third


When you come to Martinsville you think of two drivers, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. Gordon leads the field in active drivers with the most wins with seven. He has not won at Martinsville since 2005, but was looking to end that streak on the rain postponed event, Monday.

Gordon had a fast car all weekend long. They were going with a different setup than they had used at Martinsville in the past.

With rain affecting the qualifying on Friday, Gordon was to start 11th on Monday.

Gordon quickly made his way to the front. On lap 59, Gordon took the lead and pulled away from second place. His car was handling good but he cautioned the track conditions will be changing.

The team made some adjustments on the car but it hurt the handling of the car. The outside lane was not the lane to be in on the restarts. Repeatedly, Gordon was on the outside lane and ended up losing positions on the restarts.

They were getting it done on pit road for Gordon on every stop. Crew chief Steve LeTarte, was making solid adjustments on the car. That being said the team still struggled on the long runs, something that we see often at Martinsville.

Gordon was running fourth when Jeff Burton cut a tire with less than 20 laps to go. When leader Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch pitted, Gordon inherited the win with just ten laps to go.

Gordon was pulling away on the restart but a caution for Busch with the field just coming to take the white flag. They were going to a green, white checker finish.

On the restart Gordon had the lead but got hit from behind from Kenseth, sending him up the track. Kenseth and Gordon banged off each other meanwhile Hamlin took the lead with Joey Logano sliding behind him.

Gordon finished in third and Hamlin took the win. Gordon was upset with how Kenseth raced him on the restart.

Gordon and LeTarte both have said they are being aggressive this season, no more settling for top five finishes. I think early on this season we have saw that, both on the track and on pit road.

Gordon now heads to Phoenix, where he has only one win but expect to see the same strategy we saw this week.

With his top five finish at Martinsville he moved up to seventh in the standings.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mother Nature Puts Race on Hold Until Monday

Sunday's race at Martinsville has been postponed until Monday at noon local time.

Harvick Takes the Tide Ride to Victory Lane in Martinsville (NCWTS)

2010 Martinsville Mar Kevin Harvick in garage (March 27, 2010) - MARTINSVILLE, Va.—It was a relatively uneventful day for Kroger 250 winner Kevin Harvick.

The same can't be said for Harvick's teammate, Ron Hornaday Jr., who started deep in the field in Saturday's Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway and survived a late-race dust-up with Johnny Sauter to post a much-needed runner-up finish.


Harvick, who owns his No. 2 Chevrolet and the No. 33 Hornaday drives, led 187 of 250 laps in winning his second truck series race of the season in as many starts and the eighth of his career. He started from the pole after rain washed out Friday's qualifying. Brian Ickler ran third, with points leader Timothy Peters fourth and Johnny Benson fifth.

Harvick chose the outside lane when he and Hornaday teamed up for a side-by-side restart on Lap 232, after contact from Hornaday turned the No. 13 Chevy of Sauter to cause the 11th and final caution of the race 10 laps earlier. An angry Sauter confronted Hornaday on pit road after the race.

"I don't know if he got into the curb or checked up or whatever, but I got into him pretty good," Hornaday said after the exchange. "It was a tough day. I hate to see that, but Johnny's all mad, and that's what truck racing's all about."

Harvick, working for the first time with new crew chief Butch Hylton, passed Peters for the lead on Lap 190 and held it the rest of the way.

"It was a lot of fun for me, just for the fact that the thing was so dominant to drive," Harvick said. "I didn't really have to do a whole lot different—I just drove my line every lap, and we were able to make our way through traffic when we needed to.

"When we passed the 17 (Peters) for the lead there, it looked like his truck started to get a little loose getting into the corner, and we were able to capitalize on that."

Notes: Peters' series lead is now 59 points over sixth-place finisher Aric Almirola. Todd Bodine, the points leader coming into Saturday's race, finished 30th after his truck overheated. … Narain Karthikeyan, a former Formula One driver from India, finished 13th in his truck series debut after taking advantage of two free passes back to the lead lap. … Harvick's margin of victory was 1.552 seconds. … Hornaday, the defending series champion, gained 16 positions to 12th in the standings. He started the race in 31st position.

Release via Reid Spencer (Sporting News Wire Service)
  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Ron Hornaday Jr.
  3. Brian Ickler
  4. Timothy Peters
  5. Johnny Benson
  6. Aric Almirola
  7. Matt Crafton
  8. Max Papis
  9. Mario Gosslin
  10. Ricky Carmichael
  11. Chris Eggleston
  12. Hermie Sadler
  13. Narian Karthikeyan
  14. Talyer Malsam
  15. Johnny Sauter
  16. Austin Dillon
  17. DJ Kennington
  18. David Starr
  19. Rick Crawford
  20. Tony Jackson Jr.
  21. Clay Greenfield
  22. Brent Raymer
  23. Norm Benning
  24. Ryan Seig
  25. Brett Butler
  26. Jennifer Jo Cobb
  27. Mike Skinner
  28. Ken Schrader
  29. Jason White
  30. Todd Bodine
  31. Justin Lofton
  32. Brian Johnson
  33. Chris Lafferty
  34. Lance Fenton
  35. Mike Harmon
  36. Shane Sieg

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Keselowski hopes short-track success will extend to Martinsville

After standout performances in last week’s Sprint Cup and Nationwide races at Bristol, Brad Keselowski finds himself a rookie at Martinsville. The driver of the No. 12 Penske Dodge will make his first Cup start at the short track in Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500.

Keselowski’s limited experience at the 0.526-mile speedway consists of four starts in the Camping World Truck Series. His best finish was 18th in a truck owned by his father, Bob Keselowski, in 2005. The last time he competed at Martinsville was in 2007, finishing 20th in a truck for J.L. Pennington.

In the three years since he has raced at Martinsville, Keselowski has found success at another short track, Bristol. In six Nationwide starts, he has one win, three top 5s, including last week’s second-place finish, and one top 10. In his lone Sprint Cup start at Bristol, Keselowski placed 13th, his best finish this season. He led 26 laps and ran in the top 10 for most of the race.

Though Bristol and Martinsville are very different, crew chief Jay Guy believes Keselowski’s talent for short-track racing will carry over to Martinsville.

“Martinsville is probably the toughest track to visit for the first time, but I’m very confident that we can have a good run this weekend. Short-track racing is something that Brad has shown he has the ability to do well,” Guy said.

Keselowski has made progress in his first full-time Sprint Cup season. Last week’s top-15 finish at Bristol came two weeks after Keselowski had been running as high as fourth at Atlanta. After falling back a spot to fifth, Keselowski’s chance at a top-5 finish was marred when Carl Edwards wrecked him in the closing laps, causing Keselowski’s car to go airborne. Keselowski finished the day 36th.

After five races into the 2010 season, Keselowski and the No. 12 team are 30th in the Sprint Cup driver and owner standings.

He will start 30th in Sunday's race. Qualifying was rained out Friday and the field was set according to owner points.

The Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville also marks the first Sprint Cup race with the new spoiler, which replaces the much-maligned rear wing. The wing has been criticized for its looks and negative impact on competition. It’s also been speculated the wing played a part in causing racecars to go airborne in both races at Talladega last year, as well as Keselowski’s car in the Atlanta wreck.

Keselowski participated in testing with the spoiler at Talladega and earlier this week at Charlotte. He has one Sprint Cup victory with the wing, at Talladega last April.

Keselowski said the spoiler’s return will be “a great thing for our series” and will likely improve the quality of racing.

“It’s a more traditional look that the fans have said they want. We’ve had some great racing this year, but the spoiler gives the car a little more down force that will, hopefully, allow us to put on an even better show,” Keselowski said.

The driver of the No. 12 is confident Penske Racing is prepared for the change.

“It will take some time for us to adjust, but we have very talented people working here at Penske Racing that will make it as seamless as possible.”

PHOTO FROM NASCAR MEDIA

Friday, March 26, 2010

Double your pleasure: Harvick on pole for Cup and Truck races after qualifying washed out


The rain at Martinsville Speedway wouldn't go away Friday. And it worked to Kevin Harvick's advantage not once, but twice.

For the first time in his career, Harvick won two poles in a single race weekend after qualifying was rained out for Saturday's Camping World Truck Series race, the Kroger 250, and Sunday's Sprint Cup race, the Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500.

Because of the inclement weather, both series relied on the rulebook to determine their respective starting lineups. The Sprint Cup field was based on 2010 owner points, while the field for the Truck Series was primarily set by the 2009 owner standings.

Martinsville marks the first time this season that qualifying was canceled in either the Sprint Cup or Truck Series.

SPRINT CUP

Harvick currently sits atop the points ladder in the Sprint Cup Series, leading Matt Kenseth by one point. Kenseth has the outside pole for Sunday's race.

Harvick was 16th fastest in Friday's earlier practice session, with a lap of 96.347 mph and 19.654 seconds. Kenseth was 25th fastest. The two will have another opportunity to adjust their cars in a pair of practice sessions Saturday at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. ET.

The Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 will be broadcast Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on FOX. Green flag is scheduled for 1:13 p.m. ET.

Starting lineup for the Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500:
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Matt Kenseth
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Greg Biffle
5. Tony Stewart
6. Kurt Busch
7. Jeff Burton
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
9. Paul Menard
10. Kyle Busch
11. Jeff Gordon
12. Clint Bowyer
13. Carl Edwards
14. Brian Vickers
15. Jamie McMurray
16. Mark Martin
17. Joey Logano
18. Scott Speed
19. Denny Hamlin
20. Martin Truex Jr.
21. A.J. Allmendinger
22. Juan Montoya
23. Kasey Kahne
24. David Reutimann
25. Elliott Sadler
26. Ryan Newman
27. David Ragan
28. Regan Smith
29. Bobby Labonte
30. Brad Keselowski
31. Marcos Ambrose
32. Kevin Conway*
33. Sam Hornish Jr.
34. Travis Kvapil
35. David Gilliland
36. David Stremme
37. Aric Almirola
38. Robby Gordon
39. Mike Bliss
40. Max Papis
41. Michael McDowell
42. Dave Blaney
43. Joe Nemechek

*Rookies

Did Not Qualify:
Casey Mears, Terry Cook* and Johnny Sauter

TRUCK SERIES

Harvick's No. 2 truck is leading the owner standings, using last year's points from the No. 33 of defending series champion Ron Hornaday.

The No. 2 and the No. 33 swapped points prior to the season, assuring the No. 2 of making the field for the first few races. For Saturday's event, Hornaday is using a past champions' provisional.

Aric Almirola, driving for Billy Ballew Motorsports, will be on the outside pole.

The top 30 entries from the 2009 owner standings made the field, with the last five spots determined by 2010 owner points.

Saturday's Truck Series race, the Kroger 250, will be broadcast at 2 p.m. ET in SPEED. Green flag is set to wave at 2:16 p.m. ET.

Starting lineup for the Kroger 250:
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Aric Almirola
3. Matt Crafton
4. Mike Skinner
5. Timothy Peters
6. Todd Bodine
7. Johnny Sauter
8. Tayler Malsam
9. Johnny Benson
10. Rick Crawford
11. Narain Karthikeyan
12. Ricky Carmichael
13. David Starr
14. Jennifer Jo Cobb
15. Tony Jackson Jr.
16. Justin Lofton*
17. Jason White
18. Norm Benning
19. Austin Dillon*
20. Brett Butler*
21. Hermie Sadler
22. Chris Eggleston
23. Mario Gosselin
24. Brent Raymer
25. Ryan Sieg
26. Max Papis
27. Shane Sieg
28. Brian Johnson Jr.
29. Ken Schrader
30. Chris Lafferty
31. Ron Hornaday
32. Brian Ickler
33. Clay Greenfield
34. Lance Fenton
35. D.J. Kennington
36. Mike Harmon

*Rookie

Did Not Qualify:
Dennis Setzer, Paddy Rodenbeck and Dale Brackett

Another Opinion on the Harvick-Edwards Feud



It started with one comment and it snowballed from there. When NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick originally used the word, “fake” in talking to reporters about fellow driver Carl Edwards, the odds are good that he didn’t know what would come later. Now both fans and commentators are divided on the issue, some even calling him the new Tony Stewart.

Fans of Harvick recall the old days when Harvick ran his mouth off the track, but backed it up on the track. Remember the infamous fight between Harvick and Biffle in 2002 in Bristol? Or what about the incident with Ricky Rudd in 2003 at Richmond? Then there was the minor fight with Montoya in 2007 and of course more recently, his skirmish with Joey Logano. To us, this is one more example of “Happy” Harvick, the guy who was all smiles, but didn’t shy away from telling you exactly how he felt.

To others though, it’s a reason to hate him. Carl Edwards has more wins in the Cup Series (though he still needs to catch up in wins and championships in the Nationwide Series) and some might argue that he also has more fans. It definitely seems that way judging by the reactions and reports found in blogs.

The one thing people don’t realize is that Harvick and Edwards are very much alike. They both race hard on the track and aren’t afraid to push people out of the way; they just don’t agree on what comes later. Harvick isn’t above admitting that he did something intentionally and remember that he’s the only driver suspended for a Cup race based on something he did in another series. Edwards kind of takes the blame, sometimes, but then says he didn’t mean to do it.

For those on the Edwards side of the feud, remember that he didn’t have so many nice words himself. He did say (about Harvick), “I don’t like him” that his actions on the track were, “devious and underhanded and cowardly”. The next time Edwards smiles sweetly at the camera and plays the, “aw shucks” card, just remember that every action has a reaction.

----
Image courtesy Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR

TV schedule March 26-28


On the heels of Bristol, the bumpin' and bangin' continues this weekend at another short track, Martinsville Speedway. The 0.526-mile track is the shortest on the NASCAR circuit.

The "paper clip," which the track is nicknamed because of its shape, has long straightaways and a banking of only 12 degrees in the turns (essentially flat). Expect to see drivers break hard going into those turns and accelerate smoothly upon exit.

The Camping World Truck Series returns after a two-week break on Saturday for the Kroger 250. The Sprint Cup Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 will take to the track Sunday. It is an off-weekend for the Nationwide Series.

Because of the Easter holiday, the Sprint Cup Series will be off next weekend.

Here's a handy schedule of track events and television coverage this weekend at Martinsville Speedway (all times in Eastern Standard Time):

Friday, March 26:
11:00 a.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED
11:30 a.m. Sprint Cup practice, SPEED (reruns at 8 p.m.)
1:00 p.m. Truck final practice, SPEED - RAIN SHORTENED
2:00 p.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED
RAINED OUT Sprint Cup qualifying (starting lineup determined by owner points)
RAINED OUT Truck qualifying (starting lineup determined by owner points)
7:00 p.m. Trackside, SPEED. Guests: Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton (reruns at 11 p.m.)

Saturday, March 27:
10:30 a.m. Sprint Cup practice, SPEED
11:30 a.m. Sprint Cup final practice, SPEED
1:00 p.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED
1:30 p.m. Truck SetUp, SPEED
2:00 p.m. Truck race: Kroger 250, SPEED. Green flag: 2:16 p.m.
4:30 p.m. NASCAR Performance, SPEED
5:00 p.m. NASCAR Smarts, SPEED

Sunday, March 28:
8:30 a.m. NASCAR Performance, SPEED
9:00 a.m. NASCAR Smarts, SPEED
9:00 a.m. NASCAR Now, ESPN2
9:30 a.m. NASCAR In a Hurry, SPEED
10:00 a.m. NASCAR RaceDay, SPEED
12 noon Sprint Cup pre-race show, FOX
RAINED OUT Sprint Cup race: Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500, FOX. Green flag: 1:13 p.m.

Monday, March 29:
12 noon Sprint Cup race: Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500, FOX.

Photo from NASCAR Media

Thursday, March 25, 2010

NASCAR teams wrap up 2-day spoiler test at Charlotte Motor Speedway

 The crew of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet driven by Jeff Burton inspects
the underside of the car during testing Wednesday. (From NASCAR Media)

Jeff Burton fastest in second day of testing

The final day of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series spoiler testing and preparation for the May 30 Coca-Cola 600 concluded Wednesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway with Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, posting the fastest time of the day.

Burton's time of 28.539 and speed of 189.215 paced the 49 cars from 40 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams who came to Charlotte Motor Speedway for a two-day test session devoted to spoiler work. Spoilers will replace the wings currently on the backs of NASCAR Sprint Cup cars beginning this weekend at Martinsville.

Feedback from drivers on the second day of testing echoed the comments from the Tuesday session: the true test of the new spoiler will take place under race conditions.

"Personally I would like to find out more about my car in traffic from someone close to me and how it may affect the car," said four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. "It's not going to be huge, but the first race or two there might be an opportunity at some of the bigger tracks. If you understand the car before anyone else does, you can put someone in a horrible spot and take advantage of them."

"We've had a very productive test and all of the RCR teams have learned a great deal of information," said Burton. "The cars drive a little different and the reality is that the conditions and the tire combination are different than what it was last year. So we're learning new things that we can apply to every race from here out and hoping that our test data will translate well over to race conditions."

Getting tuned up in the garage is Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 56 NAPA Toyota during NASCAR
Sprint Cup Series testing at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Wednesday.  (From NASCAR Media)

"I noticed I didn't have to use as much brake as I normally did, so maybe there's a little more drag in the corner," said David Reutimann, driver of the No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. "It wasn't like you went out there and said ‘Man, this thing is completely different.' It wasn't a night and day deal."

"This is a pretty good place to test," Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, said of Charlotte Motor Speedway. "It's nice and smooth and gives you a good idea of what your mile-and-a-half package is like."

"I really like the spoiler," Edwards continued. "I think it's a great move. The fans are gonna like it and it doesn't seem to make the car feel much different."

The only incident of the day on track took place when the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge driven by Justin Allgaier hit the wall, sustaining significant right front damage. Allgaier was unscathed but his car did not continue in the test session.

The top three speeds of the day belonged to Chevrolets, with Burton follwed by Kevin Harvick in the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet (28.741, 187.885) and Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet (28.952, 186.516). The top Toyota of the day and fourth fastest overall belonged to Red Bull Racing driver Brian Vickers in the No. 83 with a time of 29.059 and a speed of 185.829. Richard Petty Motorsports' No. 43 entry, driven by A.J. Allmendinger, was the fastest Ford of the day and fifth quickest overall with a time of 29.107 and a speed of 185.522.

During the test session, fans were given an opportunity to watch their favorite Sprint Cup drivers from the grandstands, which were open for free. Ticket holders to any Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway were granted special access to watch testing from a VIP area in the infield. Over the lunch break, more than 250 ticket holders also got the chance to participate in a Q&A session with NASCAR drivers Kurt Busch and Marcos Ambrose, and seven-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher.

5 Questions Before ... Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500




Two short tracks in a row? Really? Hey, I’m not complaining, but there’s going to be a lot of bent sheet metal once all is said and done! And I don’t mean to “spoil” it for you, but the rear wing is now a piece of NASCAR history that won’t be seen again until it’s put on display in the NASCAR Hall of Fame! Also, Jimmie Johnson has the highest driver rating at Martinsville Speedway, the site of this weekend’s Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500. Even if Johnson doesn’t win, it looks like the winner will most likely be a Hendrick Motorsports driver. There’s a shock.




Anyways, unless you’re an HMS fan, that was probably a pretty dismal preview for you. Here are a few questions regarding the race this weekend:





How much of an impact will the spoiler really have? … Yes, NASCAR has run the spoiler before. However, it’s never been used on NASCAR’s new car. From what we’ve been hearing from the drivers during testing, it’s really not going to make a huge difference. Of course, we haven’t seen these racecars get in a big pack yet in testing. Everyone seems to be in agreement that we really won’t know how these cars will react until we get to Texas. Can’t we just skip Phoenix and Martinsville?





Who will sass Jimmie this week? … You’d think after almost five years of domination, you’d have heard more comments similar to Kurt Busch’s last weekend. Instead, these drivers say things like “It’s amazing what these guys are able to accomplish” and “We really should respect them and what they are doing.” Oh, sure, I’m sure some of it is genuine. But inside you know these drivers have to be muttering profanity-laced tirades 10x as worse as Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Bristol tantrum. Speaking of which …





Why is this Dale Earnhardt Jr. thing such a big deal? … Almost every major NASCAR media outlet has written about Earnhardt Jr.’s “discussion” with crew chief Lance McGrew after he received a pit road speeding penalty on lap 325. While Earnhardt’s response was admittedly interesting to hear, was it really necessary? After all, you can probably find at least four or five stand-downs between a driver and a crew chief or spotter ever weekend. The only reason it was such a big deal is because it was Dale Jr.! Unless the media was just sick of talking about Jimmie Johnson. . .





What does Mother Nature have against us? … I feel like I’m asking this question every week! Two common themes to this season: Jimmie Johnson and Mother Nature. I guess the real question here is which you find more annoying? Just for the record, showers are in the forecast for both Friday and Saturday this weekend. You know how they always mention the sponsors in the invocation during pre-race ceremonies? If they can mention sponsors, they can mention weather! Fans should be asked to get down on their knees; hands stretched towards the heavens, and BEG for good weather. If that doesn’t work, just be sure to bring a poncho in your knapsack whenever you head to the track.





How long will the points standings stay this close? … Kevin Harvick leads Matt Kenseth by a mere one point in the current points standings. It took a while to sort out who was leading after the race on Sunday, but the final points had Harvick atop the standings. I know it’s still early, but normally at this point in the season the points are a little more spread out. Even more surprising, Kurt Busch is the only other driver in the top 12 in points who has won a race. Granted, only three drivers have won a race this year (Jamie McMurray won the Daytona 500), but I still find it amazing that Johnson has won three races yet still isn’t leading the standings. If he wins the race this weekend at Martinsville, though, that might change.





Bonus questions: How many jokes will the commentators make about the spoiler/wing before we’re all groaning on our sofas? … Will Trackpass work this week? … Who are you voting for in the All-Star race?


--
Photo courtesy of NASCARMedia. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Johnson a favorite at Martinsville


The scenery will be slightly different this weekend when the Sprint Cup Series heads to Martinsville Speedway for Sunday's Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500, at least when it comes to the rear of the race cars. As last weekend's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway ushered in the end of the wing era, Sunday's race at Martinsville ushers in the return of the spoiler.

While the back of the cars will look somewhat different to to the wing being replaced by the spoiler, one more thing that 42 drivers are hoping will change will be the face in victory lane following the race. Jimmie Johnson has started his drive for his fifth-straight Sprint Cup by visiting victory lane three times only five races into the 2010 season. He's also the defending champion of this weekend's event and the race winner from a week ago.

"Some drivers hate it, but I love Martinsville," Johnson said.

Read the rest of this story at Cup Series News & Notes.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Marcos Ambrose finds frustration in Bristol


Bristol was the site of heartbreak this past Sunday for NASCAR racer Marcos Ambrose. After a strong qualifying position of 9th, Ambrose was poised to start the season anew with a strong finish. But Sunday's race was a nightmare from start to finish for Ambrose.

Ambrose was running 10th on lap 43, when the field came in for the first pit stop under the caution flag. Ambrose was pinged for a speed violation as he was exiting pit road. He had to start the race at the back of the line.

The Australian came from behind to work his way through the field. His persistence and hard work paid off. He was in 4th place when the caution flag waved on lap 202. Then Lady Luck struck Ambrose again. He was penalized a second time for speeding on pit road and this time it was while entering pit road. “We were penalized twice by NASCAR for pit road penalties - - once for exiting and once for entering too fast,” Ambrose said. “We’re going to take a hard look at that and see what happened there.”

Again Ambrose fought back and by lap 317, he was in 10th place when he came in for a pit stop. He came out in 13th place but no pit road penalty this time. Then came the disaster that Marcos could not recover from. Greg Biffle and Mark Martin got into each other and as Mark was moving down the track, he was rear ended by Jeff Gordon. Ambrose could not check up in time and got into Gordon and he became the meat in a Gordon-Montoya sandwich. Montoya wrecked hard into Ambrose driver door panel.

The JTG-D team worked overtime to get Ambrose back into the race to avoid a DNF and Ambrose finished the race a disappointing 33rd. “My guys did a great job to get us back out on track,” Ambrose said.
Bristol was the site of heartbreak this past Sunday for NASCAR racer Marcos Ambrose. After a strong qualifying position of 9th, Ambrose was poised to start the season anew with a strong finish. But Sunday's race was a nightmare from start to finish for Ambrose.

Ambrose was running 10th on lap 43, when the field came in for the first pit stop under the caution flag. Ambrose was pinged for a speed violation as he was exiting pit road. He had to start the race at the back of the line.

The Australian came from behind to work his way through the field. His persistence and hard work paid off. He was in 4th place when the caution flag waved on lap 202. Then Lady Luck struck Ambrose again. He was penalized a second time for speeding on pit road and this time it was while entering pit road. “We were penalized twice by NASCAR for pit road penalties - - once for exiting and once for entering too fast,” Ambrose said. “We’re going to take a hard look at that and see what happened there.”

Again Ambrose fought back and by lap 317, he was in 10th place when he came in for a pit stop. He came out in 13th place but no pit road penalty this time. Then came the disaster that Marcos could not recover from. Greg Biffle and Mark Martin got into each other and as Mark was moving down the track, he was rear ended by Jeff Gordon. Ambrose could not check up in time and got into Gordon and he became the meat in a Gordon-Montoya sandwich. Montoya wrecked hard into Ambrose driver door panel.

The JTG-D team worked overtime to get Ambrose back into the race to avoid a DNF and Ambrose finished the race a disappointing 33rd. “My guys did a great job to get us back out on track,” Ambrose said.

“We were fortunate to even finish the race because we had so much damage,” Ambrose said. “We’ll put this one behind us and move on to Martinsville. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. We’ve got to have better luck.” Here's hoping that Lady Luck smiles on Marcos Ambrose for the race next weekend in Martinsville.

5 Questions After ... Food City 500





There are probably a lot of people really sick and tired of reading recaps of Bristol. After all, the only people who seem to be excited about Jimmie Johnson winning yet another race are Jimmie’s fans. Everyone else seems to be pretty burned out. However, the fact that you’re reading this means: (1) You’re a glutton for punishment (2) You really like Jimmie Johnson, (3) You really like Skirts and Scuffs, or (4) You really like me. Now, I’m inclined to believe it’s the last one. However, regular readers of this column will know this is not a normal recap and I refuse to focus on just one topic of discussion.




So without further adieu, here are my five questions from the weekend:



Can anyone stop Jimmie Johnson? … I figured I’d get it out of the way first! Seriously, though, the guy won 22 of the 93 races run with the rear wing, he’s won the last four championships, 3 of the first 5 races this season, and 7 of the last 14! Seriously, this guy is unstoppable. Last year Johnson didn’t get his first win of the season until Martinsville, and didn’t show up in victory lane again until almost June (May 31st)! The year before that his first win wasn’t until Phoenix, and didn’t win again until the Brickyard 400 in July. Now the previous two years he had a few wins under his belt at this point. Bottom line: He’s got a fire underneath him, and it’s going to take a heck of a lot of work from the other teams to extinguish it.





How long did it take Greg Biffle to realize his scanner was unplugged? … Apparently too long! Just ask Mark Martin… and the 11 other cars that were involved in the incident. I know it’d be hard to plug your scanner back into your helmet under green, especially at Bristol. But how long exactly was it out? When you’re at Bristol and your spotter is quiet, something is wrong. Even the leader’s spotter is constantly in his driver’s ear alerting him of lapped cars. Biffle originally thought he had run into Jeff Burton, and had to go back and forth with spotter, Joel Edmonds, for a while to figure out what happened. It took the commentators a little while to sort it all out too!





Who put a hex on Joe Gibbs Racing? … All three drivers had tire issues that sent them into the wall and onto pit road sometime during the race. Kyle Busch was the only one that was able to recover, with a 9th place finish. Denny Hamlin finished in 19th, and only two cars behind were still on the lead lap. Joey Logano finished 27th, five laps down. Joe Gibbs Racing really hasn’t shown the strength this season that they did last year.. When will they finally step it up?





Kurt Busch doesn’t hold back much does he? … “I’d rather lose to any of the 41 cars out there today than the 48 car.” Harsh, dude, harsh! But I can’t imagine the other 41 drivers out there feel the same way. Busch just said what everyone else was thinking. I’m still waiting for the drivers to form a pact that if one of them gets lapped by Jimmie Johnson, they’ll give him a little “tap” on the bumper. Am I advocating this? Heck no! But I’d love to see it happen. (Chew on that one for a bit.)





Was everyone’s eyes glued to the TV whenever Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski were racing side by side? … It kind of reminded me of the Homestead race when Keselowski and Denny Hamlin were racing together. To refresh your memory, Hamlin had promised the week previous that he would “take care of” Keselowski. Now, granted, there was no talk of revenge for this weekend’s race, but you couldn’t help but wonder if something would happen. Nothing did, but it had everyone’s attention for the laps that they raced together.



Bonus questions: Is anyone going to miss the wing? Me neither … Can we try and make it through a weekend without rain? Please? … Are brakes going to be a big issue, not tires?

Race Fans Treated to Special Q&A in Turn 11 with Jeff Gordon in Sonoma

2010 Atlanta1 NSCS qualify Jeff Gordon (March 22, 2010) Vallejo native Jeff Gordon, who holds the track record for wins at Infineon Raceway, will be front-and-center for race fans on Sunday, June 20 (Father's Day), with a special chalk-talk session just hours before the drop of the green flag for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Race fans can secure preferred access for this special Q&A by purchasing the "24 Special" ticket package, which gets you one ticket to the race at the regular price, plus a second for just $24 (total price, $119). That's a savings of $70.


"I enjoyed this question and answer session with the fans last year, and I'm looking forward to it again this summer," said Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet and five-time winner in Sonoma. "We had a great turnout in 2009 - a turnout I hope we exceed this year."

The chalk-talk session will be open to the public, but to get preferred access, you'll need the "24 Special." The Q&A will take place on the road course at Turn 11, one of the most exciting turns on the circuit.

"Last year's event left no doubt that Sonoma is Jeff Gordon country," said Steve Page, president and general manager of Infineon Raceway. "The turnout was phenomenal and Jeff makes such a terrific connection with the fans.  We're very grateful he's decided to join us for another session this year."

The raceway has also teamed with the Courtyard by Marriott, Vallejo - Napa Valley on the "24 Special." The property is offering discounted hotel room rates for those who purchase the "24 Special." Call 800-228-9290 and ask for promotional code SPE, or visit www.marriott.com/sfovl and enter SPE in the Corporate or Promotional Code box under the Special Rates & Awards heading.

Race fans can purchase the "24 Special" by calling 800-870-RACE, infineonraceway.com or ticketmaster.com. The Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR weekend is scheduled for June 18-20.

Release via Infineon Raceway

Kahne Appearing at Budweiser ROLL-BAR at PIR on April 10th

Kasey Kahne 2010 BMS Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star and Budweiser driver Kasey Kahne will appear at Phoenix International Raceway's Budweiser ROLL-BAR for a question-and-answer session with NASCAR fans before the SUBWAY Fresh Fit 600™ on Saturday, April 10.

Kahne, driver of the No. 9 Budweiser Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports, qualified for the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup - his second such distinction. Kahne has three top-10 finishes in 11 Sprint Cup Series starts at Phoenix International Raceway.

Fellow Sprint Cup competitors Clint Bowyer, Robby Gordon, and A.J. Allmendinger will also appear at Budweiser ROLL-BAR over the weekend. Each driver will be scheduled to participate for 15 minutes, and appearance times will be confirmed shortly and announced on PhoenixRaceway.com.

More driver appearances will be announced soon.

Budweiser ROLL-BAR is located just behind the Bobby Allison Grandstands on the west side of the track, and features the best in live entertainment each day and night throughout the SUBWAY Fresh Fit 600™ NASCAR weekend and appearances by some of NASCAR’s top personalities.

The innovative hospitality environment at Budweiser ROLL-BAR includes a special VIP section for guests, featuring high-end furniture on a raised platform. A number of unique custom structures - including a bar to house a replica of the No. 9 Budweiser Ford driven by Kahne - adorn the beer garden area and highlight the Budweiser branding seen throughout the club.

Single-day tickets to Budweiser ROLL-BAR are available for $89 on Friday, April 9 and for $139 on Saturday, April 10. Additional purchase of a grandstand ticket is still required for track admission.

Tickets for 2010 at Phoenix International Raceway can be purchased online at PhoenixRaceway.com or by calling 1-866-408-RACE (7223). The PIR Ticket Office is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 125 S. Avondale Blvd., just south of I-10 at Exit 131 in Avondale.

Release via Phoenix International Raceway

Photo courtesy of Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway

Charlotte Test Session Morning Speeds (Day 1)

2010 Talladega Test Mar Dodge spoiler

The spoiler will be returning to competition. In preparation for the change from the wing to the spoiler Sprint Cup Series drivers will be testing at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Below are the times for Tuesday’s morning session.

Car Number
Driver
Best Time
Best Speed
1
42
Juan Pablo Montoya
29.036
185.976
2
77
Sam Hornish Jr.
29.049
185.893
3
00
David Reutimann
29.054
185.861
4
83
Brian Vickers
29.060
185.822
5
1
Jamie McMurray
29.089
185.637
6
5b
Mark Martin
29.164
185.160
7
5
Mark Martin
29.174
185.096
8
24
Jeff Gordon
29.179
185.065
9
33
Clint Bowyer
29.213
184.849
10
18
Kyle Busch
29.259
184.559
11
82
Scott Speed
29.289
184.370
12
11
Denny Hamlin
29.339
184.055
13
31
Jeff Burton
29.340
184.049
14
39
Ryan Newman
29.364
183.899
15
56b
Martin Truex Jr.
29.382
183.755
16
21
Bill Elliott
29.400
183.673
17
9
Kasey Kahne
29.403
183.655
18
98
Paul Menard
29.419
183.555
19
20
Joey Logano
29.425
183.517
20
17
Matt Kenseth
29.429
183.492
21
29
Kevin Harvick
29.433
183.468
22
14
Tony Stewart
29.447
183.380
23
12
Brad Keselowski
29.450
183.362
24
43
AJ Allmendinger
29.472
183.225
25
38
Kevin Conway
29.484
183.150
26
31b
Jeff Burton
29.491
183.107
27
19
Elliott Sadler
29.505
183.020
28
48b
Jimmie Johnson
29.527
182.883
29
16
Greg Biffle
29.545
182.772
30
2
Kurt Busch
29.547
182.760
31
47
Marcos Ambrose
29.625
182.278
32
6
David Ragan
29.647
182.143
33
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
29.659
182.070
34
2b
Kurt Busch
29.661
182.057
35
99
Carl Edwards
29.661
182.057
36
78
Regan Smith
29.738
181.586
37
83b
Brian Vickers
29.745
181.543
38
48
Jimmie Johnson
29.748
181.525
39
24b
Jeff Gordon
29.795
181.238
40
71
Bobby Labonte
29.924
180.457
41
22
Justin Allgaier
29.989
180.066
42
32
Reed Sorenson
30.023
179.862
43
13
Max Papis
30.032
179.808
44
7
Robby Gordon
30.098
179.414
45
09
Aric Almirola
30.195
178.838
46
46
Terry Cook
30.253
178.495
47
34
Travis Kvapil
30.270
178.394