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October 31st, 2011
Volume V, Edition CCXXX
What's Happening Now
by Tom Bowles
- The action hasn't stopped at Martinsville this Monday, as nine teams are currently testing the fuel injected-engines NASCAR is mandating for use in 2012. Among those in attendance: Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Penske Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Furniture Row Racing, NEMCO Motorsports and Stewart-Haas Racing. The morning session had just wrapped up, and there will be one more in the afternoon before the teams call it quits.
Tragedy Strikes: Russ Wallace Dies From Stroke Complications
On Saturday night, Russ Wallace, the patriarch of the Wallace Racing Family, died in St. Louis, Missouri due to complications from a stroke. He was 77. The oldest member of the Wallace racing family was not necessarily a racer by trade. Unfortunately, he simply could not make enough on the track to support himself. That meant racing in the Midwest was more of a hobby to Russ; however, he passed down his love of the sport to his three sons, Rusty, Mike, and Kenny, who often helped Russ work on his race cars.
As a driver, Russ was top notch. While running mainly on dirt tracks close to St. Louis, Russ won hundreds of races while working day shifts as an auto mechanic, or with other companies. In the garage, Russ taught his sons the work ethic that they took with them to the highest levels of NASCAR. Kenny, in particular, recently stated that he owed his work ethic, his lifestyle, and his career to his father.
We at Frontstretch send our sincerest condolences to the Wallace family on their loss.
by Mike Neff
FOR UNOFFICIAL RESULTS, CLICK HERE.
The Sprint Cup drivers took to Martinsville Speedway Sunday and a Late Model race broke out. The caution flag flew 18 times during the race and there did not appear to be a single car on the track at the end of the event that did not have some damage. When the checkered flag flew, Tony Stewart was standing in Victory Lane next to the traditional Martinsville grandfather clock after making a bold outside pass for the lead around Jimmie Johnson on a late-race restart. Stewart's win knocked 11 points off of Carl Edwards' lead in the point standings and leaves him in second position, just eight behind the leader. Johnson finished the race in second-place just ahead of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon. Kevin Harvick backed up his spring race victory with a fourth-place run while local favorite Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-5 finishers.
For Stewart, it was a clear case of, "Where did he come from?" The No. 14 Chevy was on the tail end of the lead lap for much of the race, simply fighting to stay ahead of a dominating foursome pacing the field (Johnson, Gordon, Hamlin, and Kyle Busch) before getting saved by one of the race's many caution flags. Making extended stops to work on the car, Stewart used a two-tire gamble with 41 laps left to jump all the way up to fourth on the racetrack. From there, track position meshed with fresher tires to give Stewart a shot at challenging up front. Picking off competitors one by one, he fell second for the race's final restart, after a Brian Vickers wreck and that was enough to push Johnson on the start and steal the trophy.
"[Darian Grubb, crew chief] got us that track position back with another great call," said Stewart, who muscled by Johnson on the outside during the final three laps in a hair-raising move to pull off the victory. "That is what truly gave us the shot to have that opportunity at the end of the day."
"When I was inside of Tony, I went down in the corner and thought that eight tires would be a lot better than four," said Johnson, who ultimately decided not to make contact. "I changed my mind. With where he is in the points, what's going on, the fact we raced throughout the day today, he never touched me, I had a hard time doing that."
Aside from the carnage that took place throughout the race, with only one green flag run longer than 56 laps, the biggest story of the event was the shakeup in the point standings from second through seventh place. Stewart's win moved him up two spots along with Harvick gaining two positions thanks in great part to Matt Kenseth's bad day. Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch each lost one place in the points race, but it was Kenseth who took the big hit, dropping three positions thanks to a lap 465 incident which caused him to go behind the wall and lose more than 20 laps being repaired. Kenseth dropped from second in points, just 14 behind the leader to fifth in points, 36 points out of the top spot. The other driver who moved up in the standings was Johnson, who parlayed his runner-up finish into a one spot gain and a decrease in his arrears to Edwards of seven points to only 43 behind.
"Obviously, it is tough now," said Keselowski. "Carl has such a lead on everybody, but you know, we might have to just roll the dice a little more. He's kind of had everything go his way and it might just be that year, you know, everybody has those years when things seem to go their way. It's definitely going his way right now, but the best thing we can do is try to find speed in our cars and get good finishes."
"Carl Edwards had better be real worried," boasted Stewart in Victory Lane. "That's all I've got to say. He's not going to sleep for the next three weeks."
The 18 caution flags officially involved 25 different race cars, several of them in more than one. Unofficially at least 40 race cars sustained some kind of damage during the race. The only cars that did not receive any damage were J.J. Yeley, Landon Cassill and Michael McDowell, who all fell out of the race relatively early on. Brian Vickers was the poster child for the wreckfest that took place, being involved in no fewer than six of the cautions during the event.
"With Brian, he just kept hitting me in the door," Kenseth observed. "I mean, we're at Martinsville and I gave him the bottom. Obviously, I'm not gonna roll over and let him go with 40 to go or whatever it was and he just kept driving in harder and harder and he slammed me in the door at least five times and just ran me up in the marbles and I was just tired of it, so I spun him out. I don't know how you can't pass somebody here without running into him every single time when he give you the bottom and the fastest lane, but obviously he couldn't and I was trying to get every position I could at the end of the race."
"People just have no regard," Hamlin opined. "I would get into guys and then I know its coming – I'm going to get slammed in the next corner. It's just one of those things where it's frustrating to watch because you see some of these cars getting torn up in accidents. Accidents happen and some of these drivers need to realize that."
The victory is Stewart's 42nd of his Sprint Cup career in 461 starts. It is his third victory of 2011 and also his third victory at Martinsville. Stewart is still 16th on the all-time Cup Series wins list, two behind Bill Elliott and two ahead of Mark Martin. This is the 48th victory for Chevrolet in 125 Martinsville races; in comparison, Denny Hamlin is the only Toyota driver to have ever won at Martinsville.
Mike Neff is a Senior Writer for Frontstretch.com. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
Tracking The Chasers: Edwards Does It Again
by Garrett Horton
"It's unreal," he said. "We were so bad [with] probably 200 laps to go, I was thinking, Okay, the Cardinals didn't give up the other night. That's a little motivation. The Missouri Tigers didn't give up the other night. That's motivation. I became all right with the fact we were going to finish 20th or 25th. I was already thinking about Texas, everything we were going to do. My guys stuck with it and we got very, very fortunate. Just glad we could move on."
It looked like for most of the day that Edwards was going to lose the point lead to teammate Matt Kenseth, but the last 50 laps changed everything. His lead shrunk to just eight points over second, but it comes from a new challenger as sitting right behind him in second is an unlikely contender. Even though Tony Stewart is considered amongst the sports' best, a mediocre regular season that saw the two-time Cup champ only place in the top-5 twice had no one thinking he would be a threat in the Chase. Stewart himself didn't believe his team was going to contend, but after winning his third Chase race this year, no one is hotter than Smoke. In what was a championship drive to the lead, Stewart muscled his way outside five-time defending champ Jimmie Johnson with a lap and a half remaining for the top spot. The margin to first is now just eight points with three races left in the 2011 season.
Kevin Harvick rebounded nicely from his troubles at Talladega a week before. The spring Martinsville winner ran inside the top-10 for most of the day, and was able to gain bonus points for leading laps thanks to several two-tire pit calls during the race. It was clear Harvick didn't have a race-winning car like he did in the spring, but he was still good enough for a top-5 finish, coming home in fourth. The ability to avoid trouble while others near him in points did not allowed Harvick to move two spots in the standings to third. He is now 21 markers behind Edwards.
Brad Keselowski experienced what many would describe as a typical day at Martinsville - a roller coaster ride. Taking advantage of a top-10 starting spot because of qualifying being rained out, Keselowski ran up front early before pit strategy sent him towards the back. He was running as low as 28th at one point before slowly working his way back towards the front. Late in the going, he had worked his way up to fifth, but a string of late-race cautions ulimately ended up costing the 2010 Nationwide champ. On the final restart, Denny Hamlin got into the back of Keselowski, causing him to spin out and settle for a disappointing 17th-place finish. It cost him a spot in the standings, where he now sits fourth.
Falling back three spots to fifth is Matt Kenseth. For most of the day, it looked like he would leave the event as your new point leader. While Edwards struggled most of the afternoon, Kenseth was a top-5 car for much of the race, doing what he needed to do at a track that he has struggled at in the past. That all changed, though, on lap 465, when a cut tire on the No. 17 machine sent him crashing into Kyle Busch and then the outside of Turn 3. The damage was bad enough to send the Crown Royal Ford behind the wall for repairs. While he managed to make it back out on the track, Kenseth finished 31st and likely ended his hopes of a second championship.
It seems like anytime Jimmie Johnson is considered out of the championship hunt, he reminds everyone that it's not over until Homestead. Even though Stewart wrestled the lead away from him coming to the white flag, the runner-up finish moved Johnson up one spot to sixth in the standings and back within a full race. He is now 43 points behind Edwards; still a large margin, but mathematically alive.
Kyle Busch has turned Martinsville into one of his better tracks and demonstrated this by leading a race-high 126 laps. Unfortunately, he was taken out of contention with less than 40 laps left after a cut tire on Kenseth's car caused him to spin out. The incident left Busch with minimal damage, but when the No. 18 team was making repairs on pit road, they sent the car back on the track with lugnuts on his left front wheel that were still loose. The wheel came off as soon as he went back, causing further damage to his vehicle. He ended up going seven laps down as a result and was relegated to a 27th-place finish. As a result, Busch fell one spot in the standings to seventh overall.
Kurt Busch had a much better result, but his day was just as bad. Just nine laps in, Busch was taken out by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. There wasn't any damage on the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge, but that was just a sign of things to come. Busch never got a handle of the car, and went a lap down at one point. He would also be involved in several other cautions, most notably a lap 428 incident with Paul Menard, in which it appeared that the RCR driver intentionally got into the back of him. Somehow, Busch was able to overcome all of this to finish 14th. He remains eighth in the standings, just one point behind his younger brother.
By finishing seventh on Sunday, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. posted his best Chase finish since the opener at Chicago, where he finished third. It was also just his second top-10 in the seven Chase races so far. After running in the back for most of the race last week at Talladega, Junior was a frontrunner at Martinsville, running in the top-10 for much of the day. He stays ninth in the points, but is only seven markers ahead of eleventh-place Denny Hamlin.
Jeff Gordon overcome an early race incident that saw heavy damage to his front end to be one of the fastest cars in the second half. He would lead 113 laps, but a variety of pit strategies on a lap 465 pit stop had him sitting outside the top-5. Gordon was able to drive his way back into contention, but had to settle for third. He was able to gain some points on Edwards, but with him 76 points behind with just three races left, Gordon's just trying to stay in the top-10 to make the awards banquet in Las Vegas.
Denny Hamlin was hoping a win at Martinsville would ease the pain of what has been a disappointing 2011 campaign. For a while, it looked like he would be able to pick up his fifth win at the half-mile paperclip. No one was stronger on the long runs than Hamlin, who led twice for 58 laps. However, a string of cautions pretty much eliminated any chance of a win as it took his car several laps to get going. He had to settle for fifth, his third straight top-10 of the year. Even though he started the Chase off slowly, Hamlin has been able to finish each Chase race better than from the previous week. It hasn't helped him move up in the standings though, as he still remains a distant 11th.
Rounding out the Chasers is Ryan Newman, whose tenth-place finish was just his third top-10 in this playoff. It was a good rally for the Rocketman considering he spun out with just 24 laps left in the event. Prior to that, he showed strength in the first 100 laps, leading 39 circuits before getting shuffled back on pit strategy. With three races to go, Newman is 89 points behind Edwards and 13 markers behind tenth-place Gordon.
As for the best of the rest, last week's winner Clint Bowyer remains in 13th after a last lap spin relegated him to 19th place. His closest pursuers, Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne, had their share of problems as well, and weren't able to gain much ground. Biffle's 15th-place result allowed him to gain four points on Bowyer and move past Kahne - who finished five laps down in 25th - to sit 14th in the overall standings.
Standings: 1) Carl Edwards 2273, 2) Tony Stewart -8, 3) Kevin Harvick -21, 4) Brad Keselowski -27, 5) Matt Kenseth -36, 6) Jimmie Johnson -43, 7) Kyle Busch -57, 8) Kurt Busch -58, 9) Dale Earnhardt, Jr. -73, 10) Jeff Gordon -76, 11) Denny Hamlin -80, 12) Ryan Newman -89.
Best of the Rest: 13) Clint Bowyer 940, 14) Greg Biffle -24, 15) Kasey Kahne -25, 16) A.J. Allmendinger -28, 17) Juan Pablo Montoya -77.
Tracking The Top 35: Front Row Motorsports Adds Some Cushion Over 36th
Travis Kvapil drove the No. 38 FRM Ford to a very respectable 16th-place, lead-lap effort on Sunday, allowing the team to expand their lead over TRG Motorsports. TRG, who had Virginia native Hermie Sadler behind the wheel instead of rookie Andy Lally, ended in the day in 26th with a car that certainly looked like it went through 500 laps at Martinsville. Sadler spun out, causing a caution and was never competitive, creating a deeper gap the No. 71 team will need to make up with three races left. With Kvapil's strong run along with one bonus point for leading a lap, FRM extended their lead over 36th by 11 points. That gives them a semi-comfortable cushion of 13 with just three races left on the year.
31) Front Row Motorsports (No. 34 - David Gilliland), +107 points ahead of 36th.
32) Tommy Baldwin Racing (No. 36 - Dave Blaney), +64 points ahead of 36th.
33) Germain Racing (No. 13 - Casey Mears), +58 points ahead of 36th.
34) FAS Lane Racing (No. 32 - Ken Schrader), +32 points ahead of 36th.
35) Front Row Motorsports (No. 38 - Travis Kvapil), +13 points ahead of 36th.
36) TRG Motorsports (No. 71 - Hermie Sadler),-13 points behind 35th.
37) Robby Gordon Motorsports (No. 7 - Reed Sorenson), -116 points behind 35th.
38) Wood Brothers Racing (No. 21 - Trevor Bayne), -140 points behind 35th.
39) MaxQ Motorsports (No. 37 - Mike Skinner), -260 points behind 35th.
Garrett Horton is a Contributor to Frontstretch.com. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got NASCAR-related questions or comments about 2011? John's got answers!
A new year means a new columnist to answer all your pressing questions about the sport! Our legendary flagman John Potts is taking over our Fan Q & A, so be sure to stack his inbox with plenty of queries and comments for the New Year! Send them his way at email@example.com; and if you're lucky, you'll get your name in print when he does his weekly column answering back to you – the fans!
Weekend's Top News
by Phil Allaway
Front Row Motorsports Jackman Injured Sunday at Martinsville; Released From Hospital
During Sunday afternoon's TUMS Fast Relief 500, Sean Irvan, jackman on the No. 38 Long John Silver's Ford for Front Row Motorsports, was hit on pit road during a round of pit stops under yellow by Mark Martin. The hit and subsequent fall to the ground resulted in Irvan suffering a concussion, a neck strain and a strain of the MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament) in his right knee. After being checked over in the Infield Care Center at the track, Irvan was transported by ambulance to Martinsville Memorial Hospital for additional X-Rays and CT (Computed Tomography) Scans. Those scans came back negative for additional injuries and Irvan was subsequently released from the hospital.
Phil Allaway is a Senior Writer and the Newsletter Manager for Frontstretch. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Secret Star of the Race: The Run You Never SawMichael Waltrip and his racing team have never been confused for short track specialists. As a driver, he had zero Cup victories on a track less than a mile in length; in fact, he had just two top-5 finishes in 162 starts at the sport's old school bullrings (Bristol, Martinsville, Richmond, and the now-defunct North Wilkesboro) while racking up a whopping 30 career DNFs. Before the two Daytona 500 victories, you could even argue Waltrip's most memorable NASCAR moment came in 1990 at Bristol, when his Busch Grand National car disintegrated on impact in a wicked crash he was lucky to even survive, let alone emerge with little more than a scratch.
Those poor performances have continued, even after transitioning from driver to owner. Entering Sunday, Michael Waltrip Racing had just five top-10 finishes with its team cars, now driven by David Reutimann and Martin Truex, Jr. in 65 total starts on the short tracks. That's why the run by Truex on Sunday, a quiet but consistent eighth-place performance is so important. In order for this team to take it to the next level, they need to post results on all different types of tracks - a push their NAPA-sponsored driver has made in recent weeks. Not only does he have a second at Bristol, from back in August but the New Jersey native added a fourth at the road course at Watkins Glen and the September pole at one-mile Dover to showcase some versatility.
But that's not all. Truex had his crew chief, Chad Johnston suspended this week after his windshield didn't fit the NASCAR templates at Talladega (the team is currently appealing). That left him with former head wrench Pat Tryson, who was replaced earlier this year, heading to a track in which Truex's stuck throttle in the Spring resulted in perhaps the hardest hit of his career. That's a lot of bad mojo to overcome, especially on a day where other drivers were so aggressive this half-mile resembled more like a video game obstacle course from Grand Theft Auto. No wonder why there may have been no one more relieved to grab a top-10 finish… right?
"This is by far my toughest track," admitted Truex post-race. "I want to thank Pat Tryson (crew chief) for helping us out this weekend and the rest of my NAPA team for stepping up and making it through a very tough week."
"I'm so proud of my team. My biggest challenge today was all the restarts. I pretty much lined up on the outside for all but two or three of them. Fortunately, I was on the inside for the one that counted the most — the last one. It was pretty crazy out there so I'm happy to end up eighth. We'll take eighth and go to Texas."
Certainly, starting on the outside was a bit of a challenge for anyone. But considering the challenge for MWR is simply making it to the checkered at this racetrack; trust me, everyone within the shop walls of the No. 56 was wearing an extra big smile on their face this Sunday night. – Tom Bowles
STAT OF THE WEEK: 19.2. That's Tony Stewart's average finish at Martinsville in his five previous starts as owner/driver, a mark he shattered with a win in Sunday's race. Stewart had led just one lap in the No. 14 Chevy, posting just two lead-lap finishes and suffering through an extended set of handling woes… woes that weren't even rectified until the final 200 laps or so on Sunday. Better late than never though, right? - Tom Bowles
Running Their Mouth: 2011 TUMS Fast Relief 500
by Brody Jones
"Carl Edwards had better be real worried. That's all I've got to say. He's not going to sleep for the next three weeks." - Tony Stewart, race winner
Let the mind games begin, NASCAR fans! It certainly seems as if Tony Stewart has decided to take the Denny Hamlin approach of getting inside the competition's head. Last year, the No. 11 FedEx team tried similar tactics, only to have them implode in their faces in the last two races of the season. But this year is different, as the guy playing these games has not one, but two championships to his credit. Edwards has not been in a position to lead the Chase with three races to go. Plus, with the deficit being so tight, the Ford driver is going to need to start running better than ninth place to win this championship... because "Smoke" is definitely more than capable of rising to the occasion.
Most Controversial Quote:
"Yeah, I just could not get away from him on the restart. He hung on strong on the outside, and I was more worried about clipping a curb when he was running me tight and not take him out of a championship situation, minding my P's and Q's. I just wanted to do the right thing and unfortunately got beat in the process. Thought about going in there and leaning on him, move him up but that is just not the right thing to do. I just wished that prior to that the No. 83 was not a part of every caution. I wish he could have just driven around the race track and we could have won this thing, but whatever, we will move on." - Jimmie Johnson, runner-up, on the last restart
Clearly, Brian Vickers' role at Martinsville was to be the American missile defense program, as he was hitting nearly everything in sight on Sunday. It almost seemed like the Allstate "Mayhem" character had slid behind the wheel of the No. 83 car. But back to the topic at hand. Jimmie Johnson had stayed out when the other drivers had pitted and appeared to be a sitting duck. Still, he had a one-second lead, which is practically an eternity at a track like Martinsville until Vickers again caused another accident.
This caution would bunch up the field for one last restart where Johnson would lose the lead to Tony Stewart and now, the No. 48 team has seen their hopes of a "six-pack" all but vanish. It's safe to say that after this race, not many drivers aren't exactly going to be skydiving with the Thomasville, North Carolina native anytime soon.
Crew Chief Quote Of The Week:
"It is. You don't know when the caution is going to fall. When it's not. If you are going to get spun out, or you're not. It's just crazy. It is just frustrating. I am proud we came back and finished tenth, but it isn't what we wanted. We'll just take it and go on." - Tony Gibson, crew chief, No. 39 team
Craziness was the best word to describe racing at the Sprint Cup Series' smallest track on Sunday. Ryan Newman's day was thwarted with a mid-race spin following contact with Kurt Busch. It certainly seemed like patience and common sense behind the wheel did not apply at Martinsville. For Gibson, a day that held so much promise would ultimately wind up with a disappointing tenth-place finish. Granted, it was a top 10, but for Newman and Gibson, who have no shortage of short track credentials between them, a 10th-place result is not exactly what they had in mind.
Best Of The Rest:
"For Martinsville for sure. People just have no regard. I would get into guys and then I know it's coming — I'm going to get slammed in the next corner. It's just one of those things where it's frustrating to watch because you see some of these cars getting torn up on accidents. Accidents happen and some these drivers need to realize that." - Denny Hamlin, fifth on the race's aggression
"I mean, come on man. I mean everybody that I think I ran over even got me back accidentally in one shape or form today. I don't know if they think we are all even but I ain't really worried about it. If they want to come at me, come at me. But I had fun today and this is short track racing and we don't do as much short track racing anymore so when you see this kind of thing, you are like 'whoa, what's going on', because we run on these mile-and-a-halfs and you don't see that kind of crap. And if we ran on these things more often, this would kind of be more acceptable I guess in their minds." - Dale Earnhardt Jr., seventh on how other drivers felt about the wrecks
"It was unbelievable. It was insane. That's the way NASCAR is now. Everybody is desperate. We've got to fight for everything we can get out there. Sponsors, points, money, etc., so everybody is trying to get everything. It's the end of the year. It just seems like if it's just me, but it just seems like this year is tiring. Everybody is tired and you put that combination together at a place like Martinsville and things are gonna happen." - A.J. Allmendinger, 11th
"I'm so proud of all the guys on this GEICO racing team. We've known all year that we could run this well and it's a nice feeling to have two weeks in a row where we have run up front. I want to thank Bob Germain (team owner) for giving us the chance this afternoon and we are making great strides as a team. Bootie [Barker, crew chief and all the guys on this team deserve a lot of credit." - Casey Mears, 12th
"With Brian, he just kept hitting me in the door. I mean, we're at Martinsville and I gave him the bottom. Obviously, I'm not gonna roll over and let him go with 40 to go or whatever it was and he just kept driving in harder and harder and he slammed me in the door at least five times and just ran me up in the marbles and I was just tired of it, so I spun him out. I don't know how you can't pass somebody here without running into him every single time when he gives you the bottom and the fastest lane, but obviously he couldn't and I was trying to get every position I could at the end of the race." - Matt Kenseth, 31st
"When you don't feel like you have the corner good, you block. I pulled down and blocked and I saw he [Brian Vickers] was going to get in there, so I moved back up the track and I just feel like he let off the brake and went ahead and sent me for a ride. I don't know, it is frustrating, because we had a really good car yesterday, and it did not start off very good today and I thought we got our car quite a bit better there and I am just really upset. I felt like I blocked him, then I let him in, it was all going to be good and I just felt like he kind of took a cheap shot on me. I just didn't appreciate it." - Jamie McMurray, 35th, on his incident with Brian Vickers
Brody Jones is a Contributor to Frontstretch.com. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
Hey Frontstretch Readers! We know you love the roar of raw horsepower under the hood that powers 43 of the best drivers in the world every weekend, but did you ever wonder how the sponsor on top of that hood also contributes to keeping the sport moving? What about the contributions of official NASCAR companies? If you think they are simply writing checks, think again. Check out our newest feature - Sunday Money. This weekly Frontstretch exclusive provides you with a behind the scenes look how NASCAR, it's affiliates and team sponsors approach the daunting task of keeping fans interested and excited about the sport for 38 weeks of the year.
TODAY ON THE FRONTSTRETCH:
Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Martinsville-2 Race Recap
by Matt McLaughlin
Monday Morning Teardown: Bringing Down The House
by Ron Lemasters
David vs. Goliath: Casey At The Bat Comes Through In Small-Town Virginia
by Bryan Davis Keith
How Bizarre: A True Halloween Story Of Back From The Dead
by Tom Bowles
The Big Six: Questions Answered After The TUMS Fast Relief 500
by Amy Henderson
Tracking The Trucks: Kroger 200
by Amy Henderson
Get THE ANNUAL, 2011 Racing Preview for your mobile device.
Go to Frontstretch.com and click on "The Annual" link on the right side to order and download this special issue that includes: Track Information, Driver profiles and In-Depth Features.
Q: As many of you remember, Texas Motor Speedway's second NASCAR weekend came out of an out-of-court settlement of the Francis Ferko lawsuit. This used to be the fall weekend in Rockingham. In 2000, the Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 at that racetrack was marred by an incident on pit road. What happened?
Q: The 1991 Goody's 500 at Martinsville Speedway is famous for being the race that Harry Gant won to claim his fourth consecutive Cup Series victory, earning him the nickname, "Mr. September." However, Gant's win overshadowed an excellent run for Jimmy Hensley, who ran as high as fourth before dropping back to a tenth-place finish in his 26th career start. Who was Hensley driving for and what became of that team?
A: Hensley was driving for Team III Racing, a small outfit that fielded No. 24 Pontiacs in 1991. The team ran almost the entire season without a sponsor, except for the last race of the season when they ran Kenny Wallace with Dirt Devil backing (Dirt Devil ended up sponsoring Wallace in Busch during the 1992 season before moving up to Cup for 1993). The team ran the first half of the season with Mickey Gibbs behind the wheel, then split the seat between Hensley, Wallace, Dick Trickle and Dorsey Schroeder for the rest of the season. Despite some great runs, including a sixth-place finish with Trickle at Dover, the team was heavily in debt at the end of the year and shut down when they could not acquire sponsorship for the 1992 season. In addition, McMahon, whose family money came from a chain of motels, was illegally funneling money from financial partnerships related to the hotels to his race team, and other personal endeavors. This article on Allbusiness.com explains the mess that the McMahon's were in back in the 1980's and 1990's far better than we can. Team III Racing isn't prominently mentioned until Page 9, but it's definitely worth a read.
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Coming Tuesday in the Frontstretch Newsletter:
-- Top News from Tom Bowles
-- Sitting In The Stands: A Fans' View by S.D. Grady
-- Links to your favorite Frontstretch articles, and more!
Tomorrow on the Frontstretch:
The Yellow Stripe by Danny Peters
Danny gives us a commentary piece based on recent events in NASCAR.
Who's Hot / Who's Not in Sprint Cup: Martinsville-Fort Worth Edition by Summer Dreyer
Summer takes a look at post-Martinsville numbers to see who's got the most momentum heading into Texas... and beyond.
Five Points To Ponder by Bryan Davis Keith
Bryan is back with his weekly edition of talking points to tie up Martinsville and get us set for the week of NASCAR news ahead.
Talking NASCAR TV by Phil Allaway
This past weekend, the Sprint Cup Series made their second visit of the year to Martinsville for a 500-lap race, with the Camping World Truck Series serving as main support. Meanwhile, Formula One made their first-ever visit to India. Were the race telecasts up to snuff, or were they missing something? Find out in this week's edition of the TV Critique.
Fact Or Fiction by Tom Bowles
Tom is back with a list of predictions and calls to get us set for the final three weeks of NASCAR competition.
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