February 20, 2010 |
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is curbing his enthusiasm. While relishing his near victory in last week's Daytona 500, the most popular driver in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series knows he's back at what has been -- for him -- the unfriendly confines of Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. Still, Earnhardt said Friday that he hopes to maintain momentum from his second-place finish behind winner Jamie McMurray in the Daytona 500 with another strong showing Sunday at the Fontana track. "I enjoy finishing up front; it had been a long time since we had finished [well]
February 19, 2010 |
NASCAR is back in Fontana, which means Jimmie Johnson will toss and turn at night. "When I go to California, I know the night before I'm not going to sleep well," the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion said of this weekend's race at Auto Club Speedway. "I haven't for the last eight years." That's because Johnson and his rival drivers view Sunday's Auto Club 500, the second race after last weekend's season-opening Daytona 500, as the first true yardstick of how their cars stack up against each other.
February 15, 2010 |
Those who stayed through more than two hours of red flags and waited as the Daytona 500 paused unpleasantly were treated to another breathtaking finish in the Great American Race. It ended with drama and without a massive wreck. There were blocks, and pushes and the sport's favorite son zooming his way through the field going from 10th place to second on the second green-white-checkered restart. It was everything NASCAR wanted from its new rules package. The race just took a while to get there.
February 14, 2010 |
It seems appropriate that this Daytona 500 falls on Valentine's Day, the day NASCAR hopes its fans will fall back in love with its sport. The Great American Race is NASCAR's great American opportunity to rekindle a dying love affair. NASCAR must transform what has become the mundanely monotonous Dulltona 500 back into the deliriously dramatic Daytona 500. NASCAR entered the American sporting consciousness in 1979 when CBS first televised the race wire-to-wire on a day when the entire East Coast, because of a blizzard, was stuck in the house watching TV. That historic, histrionic race ended with Cale Yarborough and the Allison boys wrecking each other on the final lap and brawling on the backstretch as the ultra-popular Richard Petty breezed by for the victory.
February 7, 2010 |
If anyone needed an early-season boost in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this year it was Kevin Harvick. The Bakersfield native had a miserable 2009, finishing 19th in the point standings, his worst showing in seven years, and he hasn't won a points-paying race since nipping Mark Martin to win the Daytona 500 in 2007. But Harvick again demonstrated his prowess at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night by winning his second consecutive Budweiser Shootout, a non-points exhibition race that precedes the Daytona 500 and marks the unofficial start to the Cup season.
February 5, 2010 |
Jeff Gordon knows he's running out of time to win a fifth NASCAR championship. Gordon, the onetime "Boy Wonder" who captured his four titles in NASCAR's premier series between 1995 and 2001, hasn't won another since the series became the Sprint Cup Series and adopted the "Chase for the Cup" title playoff format in 2004. It hasn't been for lack of trying. Gordon finished second in the point standings in 2007 and third last year, but he's had to watch as Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson won an unprecedented four consecutive championships from 2006 through last season.
February 20, 2009 |
Brian Vickers naturally was startled when Dale Earnhardt Jr. clipped his car's rear quarter panel during the Daytona 500 last Sunday, sending Vickers' car careening sideways and sparking a multi-car crash that became a signature moment of the big race. But Vickers was even more surprised by what came next.
February 17, 2009 |
One year Matt Kenseth showed up at the Daytona 500 with extra clothes for after the race. The Daytona 500 winner, after all, has to stay the next day for the winning car's enshrinement, and then spend a few days in New York doing talk-show interviews. Feeling good about his chances, Kenseth was prepared. Then he went out and ran one of his worst Daytona 500s. Having learned his lesson, this year Kenseth intentionally didn't come prepared.
February 16, 2009 |
As the rain clouds crept closer to Daytona International Speedway, Matt Kenseth crept closer to the front of the field, quietly but consistently. He passed Elliott Sadler to take the lead on Lap 146, and when the rain fell six laps later, Kenseth -- known for his even-keeled and calm personality -- started screaming into his radio. "Rain! Rain! Rain! Rain!" This was a big moment. NASCAR red-flagged Sunday's race, and 17 minutes later officials called it.
February 15, 2009 |
. -- Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman have to use backup cars for the Daytona 500 thanks to a blown tire. But Goodyear said it stands behind its product, even though it has had several problems this week. Newman blew a tire Saturday during the final practice for today's race, sending him crashing into Stewart. Both drivers criticized the tire manufacturer afterward. "It is ridiculous, the situation we are in with these tires," Newman said.