Talladega – Clean air out front at the finish with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Mid-field turbulence tore up some others…

The #88 of Dale, Jr. was out front and holding position while team mate Johnson in the #48 was chasing but not really catching. Others made moves including Denny Hamlin but really just opened the train to multiple lanes crossing the finish.

Talladega also saw the challenge of close racing at speed as air pressure pulled and pushed the field. Early on it was Trevor Bayne going loose with Menard on the outside and Kurt Busch on the inside. The air went rough and the tail of Bayne’s Ford went wild triggering a spin in the field that put quite a few either out or down with repairs.

For Earnhardt, it was a sweet and emotional win as he spoke somewhat softly in Victory Lane. Excited, yes, but also reserved while expressing his view on his team, his personal life and how it is all coming together with his racing and feeling really thankful. Talladega notches his first points win of the season and puts The CHASE in view for the #88.

Top 5 across the line at Talladega: Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Paul Menard, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex, Jr.

Dale Jr. moves into the the #5 spot in points with Kevin Harvick still on top. Martin Truex, Jr. is second in points with solid finishes but the only driver in the top 5 with no wins in 2015. Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano fill up spots three and four.

Next up: Kansas

Wow. That didn’t take long. The “big one” before the “big one” season starting Daytona 500 even got the green flag. The testing of the new Gen-6 car went wild during draft and group testing at speed…

Apparently, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. discovered a “draft fact”, that is if his post run comments were on the mark. Marcos Ambrose went loose setting off a chain of events that left a eleven cars in a state of insurance headache. Ambrose’s Ford went sideways after a rear clip from Earnhardt, Jr.’s Chevy which apparently lead to his comments. (more…)

Martinsville. It can be a turn to turn slug-fest or a lap by lap run down trading positions. The classic scenario mixes the two for moves through the field and pushing the way to the front.

This weekend we got a bit of the classic Martinsville. Twenty-two lead changes, plenty of clashing bumpers with some spins and wall-hangers to an “anyone could take it” 20 lap final.

This was the Chase from Martinsville as the track celebrated 65 years of racing with Hall Of Famers, a showing of historic memorabilia at a local museum, a points grab on the line and a return to his car by one of the top stars of NASCAR.

If that wasn’t enough to make a full day throw in a constant threat of hurricane Sandy off the eastern coast and another front pumping through from the west. As the race ran through scheduled 500 laps it was raining 80 miles west and 100 miles east. Martinsville sat between the weather for racing but 15 minutes after the checkered flag the temperatures began to plummet and the wind was kicking it.

Martinsville fans are used to dealing with a little weird weather but this may have pushed it up a notch. (more…)

Rain… It is as necesary as air…

However, on race day for NASCAR Sprint Cup, it is as unwelcome as a Bud hat in a Miller campsite…

The entire season blew the storm of the Chase into Richmond with wildcards and points on the line. That storm was put off as another storm blew in and kept the race in the garage for almost two hours. NASCAR and RIR staff kept things tight as the rain moved out. After all, the plan was to run under the lights. The weather was watched and the decision was held. Jet dryers and utility vehicles did a number on the track to dry it out but even then they ran the first few laps under caution.

Finally they went green on a green track with any rubber from qualifying and the Nationwide race the day before  thrown to the inner wall. The crowd braved the rain to watch Jeff Gordon blow by pole sitter Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Dale, Jr. to regain the lead shortly after. (more…)

Richmond. Nationwide Series. Elliott Sadler comes in with a slight points lead over Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. By the end of the night, following a battle putting both side by side over several laps for the race lead, Sadler spun and was off the lead lap.

One point. That is all that separates them after Richmond.

Race winner, Kevin Harvick, was there to race. That is all. Get a win if possible, like any other driver…

He is down in Nationwide points by over 900. He doesn’t even earn Nationwide points. His appearance at the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 was essentially a blender thrown into the pudding. Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin were often trying for the front leaving the points runners to run defense as well as try for championship points. (more…)

Sunday morning – Daytona 500 Race Day! Clicking into NASCAR.com first thing to check on updates for today and what do we see…? A big sidebar advertisement for Nationwide Insurance with Danica Patrick standing there…  Ironic…? Good timing…? After all, she has gone nose deep into concrete twice in three days and steps back into a new car. That would seem to be a good selling point for auto insurance… Right…?

But this race, this season… It’s not all about Danica Patrick. Every garage, team and driver has a story that brought them here and they all want the same thing. There are also the stories of those who are shut out of the barn for the big dance. Take Michael Waltrip, for example… Re-entering the field during Gatorade Dual Day, he attempted to leave the inner skirt of the track and get on the banking but the sudden angle change was too much at speed and the car jolted up the track and into the wall. That put him at #44 and one spot off the grid after pre-season wrangling to have a ride to qualify with. Yes, MWR still has cars on the track for the 500, but Michael isn’t in any of them. (more…)

Speed week is well under way. The ROLEX 24 ran a couple of weeks ago. The Gatorade Duel is run and done and the field is set for the upcoming Daytona 500. It’s a new season and again it is time to go through your NASCAR fan gear and see what needs to go out the door so you won’t look like a fashion loser on race day.

photo courtesy NASCAR / Getty Images

Most noteable is Jamie McMurray and his move to the #1 Bass Pro Shops ride with Earnhardt Ganassai. Roush-Fenway came up against a four team NASCAR ruling and the #26 program was cut.

So…  Where is Martin Truex, Jr.? He is behind the wheel with the new #56 team of Michael Waltrip Racing, which is also running David Reutimann’s #00 and a #151 driven by Waltrip.

So… Where is the #55 that Waltrip drove last year? That number is now under the banner of Prism Motorsports with Michael McDowell handling the driving. Prism also handles the #66 Toyota with Dave Blaney.

And the #26 that was McMurray’s ride …? Latitude 43 Motorsports has Boris Said and the #26 with Window World Cares sponsorship. Window World Cares is also sponsoring the #34 Ford with John Andretti being backed by Front Row Motorsports with Yates racing.

photo courtesy NASCAR / Getty Images

TRG Motorsports is running the Sprint Cup Series again in 2010. Last year a few drivers drove the #71, including Mike Wallace and David Gilliland. TRG has been running in the Camping World Series Trucks and comes to NASCAR from Grand-Am where they have a very successful Porsche program. For 2010, Bobby Labonte is taking the TaxSlayer.com Chevy through the early season.

David Gilliland is driving the BAM Racing #49 on track with Warner Music Nashville / Larry the Cable Guy. Perhaps Gilliland can “Git-R-Done” in the #49…  (Apologies, but it had to be done)

Mike Wallace is starting the season in the really high numbers…  #198, with K-Automotive Motorsports. The #198 is not the only triple digit entry. Waltrip has the aforementioned #151, Todd Bodine will be in the #127, Reed Sorenson is in the #132, Casey Mears will be trying to get the #190 qualified for 2010 races…

Now, there probably won’t be a rush to Goodwill with last year’s gear as there aren’t many of the stereotypical, high profile drivers shifting rides. Jamie McMurray and Martin Truex, Jr. fans…  Well, sorry. You had your fun with Dale Jr. fans a couple of years ago. Bite the bullet and get new gear or get really talented with a Sharpie real quick.

Oh…  Wait…  You might want to check on sponsors for your favorites this year. For instance, Mark Martin, on the pole for the Daytona 500, has Go Daddy on his car… 

Watch the Daytona 500, check the driver list at nascar.com, see who is driving what and who is paying their bills and find out if you need to buy a new hat. Either way, or whoever you shout for, the race, my friends, is ON!