NASCAR Chase searching for "water cooler moment" in Kansas

1. Still waiting for a Chase water cooler moment
A palpable buzz is non-existent heading to Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ championship fight is now four races old, yet the potential drama of a season-ender at Homestead-Miami Speedway seems months away.

NASCAR's Chase: And then there were three?

For years, Joe Gibbs Racing and NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship mixed like oil and water. Since its last title with Tony Stewart in 2005, JGR’s postseason has resembled an Atlanta Braves playoff run. There have been spectacular engine failures. Emotional meltdowns. On-track retaliations. A title-draining spin at Homestead. You name it, and the organization has probably experienced it.

NASCAR tries to move past Chase scandal following Chicagoland opener

Technically, Matt Kenseth stood in Victory Lane Sunday night, the winner of NASCAR’s 12 Hours of Chicagoland. There are all sorts of stats, analysis and history I’m supposed to pair with that for you. It’s his series-leading sixth victory of the year, more than his No. 20 car had registered throughout the last six years of competition. It’s a driver armed with something to prove, hoping to bookmark the last championship under the old format with his first under NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship. A compelling storyline?

Brad Keselowski and Paul Wolfe: The Duo that Almost Never Was

NASCAR News and Notes of the Week
Two Right Sidebar Images
<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long reveals that Paul Wolfe was very close to not being Brad Keselowski's Sprint Cup crew chief. But now that the two are together at Penske Racing, they satnd on the verge of a NASCAR championship.</p>

The first time Brad Keselowski asked Paul Wolfe to be his crew chief, Wolfe didn’t flinch.

“He looked me in the eye and said, ‘No, I don’t want to do it,’” Keselowski said. “I think he was kind of mad at me because I had wrecked (his car).”

It was Aug. 2009 when Keselowski posed the question to Wolfe, a former driver turned crew chief working for CJM Racing.

Harvick wins a wild one in Phoenix

Gordon/Bowyer melee mars AdvoCar500; Keselowski turns tables on Johnson in points battle
Two Right Sidebar Images
<p> Kevin Harvick won a wild AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Meanwhile, Brad Keselowski overtook the points lead over Jimmie Johnson while Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer engaged in an on- and off-track melee.</p>

Once the smoke cleared, the cars (or what was left of them) were loaded and the Sunday sun set over Phoenix International Raceway, a new championship landscape had emerged in NASCAR. But tempers as hot and raw as the surrounding Sonora Desert shifted the focus of the Sprint Cup Series’ AdvoCare 500 from said title battle—and the race’s previously-MIA winner—to wrecked racecars, fist fights and talk of on-track payback.

NASCAR News & Notes of the Week

The 2013 Sprint Cup, Brad Keselowski's spike in popularity and Kyle Busch's hot streak
Two Right Sidebar Images
<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long updates on the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup car, Bradk Keselowski's popularity in the Chase and Kyle Busch's bot streak.</p>

A Goodyear tire test Tuesday and Wednesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway could provide a clue as to how racy NASCAR’s 2013 Sprint Cup car can be.

Backseat Drivers Fan Council

NASCAR's new start times, title favorites and grading Martinsville
Two Right Sidebar Images
<p> Dustin Long's Backseat Drivers Fan Council discuss new start times in the Chase, who the chmapionship favorite is with three races remaining in the season and the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville.</p>

Times are a-changin’ in NASCAR but will fans see a change in who has been the champion most often in recent years? With starting times for the remaining races pushed back, members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council were asked if they liked the move, along with who now is their pick to win the title with three races left and what they thought of the Martinsville race. Here’s what they had to say about those issues and more:

NASCAR’s Cookie Cutter Crisis

Denny Hamlin wreck a rough reminder of racetracks in crisis
<p> Athlon Sports contributor Tom Bowles examines the proliferation of "cookie cutter" tracks on NASCAR's Sprint Cup circuit.</p>

Denny Hamlin began Thursday playing the role of NASCAR Chase contender. How’d he end it?

Trying to avoid the label of tragic footnote.

Smashing his car into the Turn 1 wall at a reported 202 mph, a test at the repaved Kansas Speedway turned into a headache—literally—as Hamlin fought dizziness to the point he made a second trip to the infield care center for further evaluation.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Miss Races with Concussion

Popular driver will sit out at least two NASCAR events after Talladega wreck
Two Right Sidebar Images
<p> Hendrick Motorsports announced that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races after sufferring two concussions since Aug. 29.</p>

Hendrick Motorsports announced on Thursday that driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. will sit out the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway after suffering a concussion at Talladega on Sunday.

In a release, the company stated that Earnhardt was diagnosed with a concussion Wednesday afternoon in Charlotte and that Regan Smith will serve as the No. 88 team’s substitute driver in his absence.

Backseat Drivers Fan Council

Do NASCAR fans want to see wrecks?
Two Right Sidebar Images
<p> Dustin Long's Backseat Drivers Fan Council discusses the age-old arguement about whether NASCR fans want to see wrecks, discuss Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s comments about Talladega's plate racing and size up the Chase battle between Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin.</p>

Do NASCAR fans want to see wrecks? Were they thrilled by the wild action on the last lap at Talladega or was it the 25-car pileup that made the finish more exciting?

Members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council debated what they thought about the final lap at Talladega, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s comments about the racing and the big wreck and much more. Here’s what they said: