NASCAR

Confident Earnhardt Heads Back to Daytona

The Long and Short of It
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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long takes a spin around the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit as the series reaches its midway point at Daytona International Speedway.</p>
2012

The equipment and team help but Dale Earnhardt Jr. says a key reason for his success in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season is crew chief Steve Letarte.

Since being paired together last year, Earnhardt has scored one victory, 11 top-five finishes and 25 top-10 finishes in 53 races.

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Backseat Drivers Fan Council

Kenseth's departure, Roush's title chances and the next driver to score a win
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<p> The Backseat Drivers Fan Council wieghs in on Matt Kenseth's departure from Roush Fenway Racing, his team's title hopes, the road race at Sonoma and on which winless driver in 2012 will break through first.</p>
2012

The announcement that Matt Kenseth will leave Roush Fenway Racing after this season has been the talk of NASCAR. Members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council didn’t hold back on what they thought about the move on if it was good or bad for Roush and how this might impact Kenseth’s title hopes.

The Backseat Drivers Fan Council also weighed in on Sunday’s race at Sonoma, who between 11th and 20th in the points will make the Chase and more. Here’s what they had to say.

Clint Bowyer Wins in Sonoma

Bowyer, MWR team, have found chemistry early in 2012
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<p> Clint Bowyer wins the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma.</p>
2012

Perhaps Clint Bowyer’s win on the road course in Sonoma, Calif., should not have come as a surprise. After all, the seven-year NASCAR Sprint Cup veteran had recorded four top 10s in six starts at the 1.99-mile course prior to Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350.

Still, Bowyer, a Kansas native with Midwest dirt-tracking roots, has never been considered anywhere near a “road course ringer,” as the NASCAR types like to label those who excel when turning left and right.

Kenseth's Future, Gordon's Slump and Kahne's Strategy

The Long and Short of It
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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long talks about Matt Kenseth leaving Roush, Jeff Gordon's continued slump and Kasey Kahne's new Chase strategy.</p>

Points leader Matt Kenseth will leave Roush Fenway Racing after this season and be replaced by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the team announced Tuesday.

Reports state that Kenseth is headed to Joe Gibbs Racing although it is unclear if it will be with a fourth team or in place of Joey Logano, who is in the final year of his contract. 

Backseat Drivers Fan Council

Junior's title hopes, grading Michigan and road racing in Sonoma
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<p> The Backseat Drivers Fan Council wieghs in on Dale Earnahrdt Jr.'s championship hopes, his win at Michigan and road course racing at Infineon and Watkins Glen.</p>
2012

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s victory celebration is long over and now it’s time to look ahead. Members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council were asked to look ahead on what Earnhardt’s victory means related to the title race and at this weekend’s race — the first race on a road course this season. Of course, members did have time to look back at Michigan and give that race a grade.

Here’s what members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council had to say:

Ambrose vs. the Road Course, Junior's Confidence and Martin's Vacation

The Long and Short of It
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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long looks at Marcos Ambrose and his record on NASCAR's road courses, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s confidence level, Elliott Sadler's title hopes in the Nationwide Series and Mark Martin's Sprint Cup vacation.</p>
2012

To break one trend, Marcos Ambrose knows he’ll likely endure another when the Sprint Cup Series competes at Sonoma in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on Sunday in the first of two races at road courses this season.

Ambrose, who won at Watkins Glen last year for his first Cup victory, seeks to break a string of seven different winners on road courses. To do so, he’ll have to avoid the litany of trouble that lurks on the tight, 12-turn road course.

NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

At Long Last, the Son Rises
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<p> Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally ascends to the top of Athlon Sports' Horsepower Rankings after breaking a 143-race winless skid with a victory at Michigan International Speedway.</p>
2012

1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
We’ve said all along that Earnhardt’s consistency warranted the top spot, but a lack of any wins kept him from it. Well, the 143-race national nightmare is over, and Junior can now lead the way.

2. Jimmie Johnson
Replace the engine and start in the rear of the field? No problem for Chad Knaus and crew. They just handed the ball to J.J., who drove it to a fifth-place finish with blistered tires and an empty gas tank.

NASCAR Silly Season Primer

Looking at the free agent class of 2012
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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Tom Bowles looks ahead to NASCAR's Silly Season, examining which drivers may be switching seats in 2013.</p>
2012

Joey Logano, you captured your first race win since 2009 less than two weeks ago. You passed a future Hall of Famer, Mark Martin, to do it. You’re now just 51 points away from the Chase with a possible wild card ticket in your back pocket. What’s next for you?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Wins in Michigan

Earnhardt breaks winless skid, answers questions
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<p> Dale Earnhardt Jr. broke a 143-race winless skid by visiting Victory Lane in the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.</p>
2012

Four years and 143 races. That’s how long it had been since NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., had won a Sprint Cup Series race.

#NASCAR & #Twitter? OMG! and Jerry Springer coming to Cup?

Backseat Drivers Fan Council
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<p> The Backseat Drivers Fan Council talks the NAScAR and Twitter partnership, a potential "Jerry Springer Show" sponsorship and the race at Pocono.</p>
2012

Jerry Springer and NASCAR? A special Twitter page for NASCAR and a unique race at a unique race track. Backseat Drivers Fan Council members had much to debate this week and they didn’t always agree. Here’s what they had to say about this week’s issues:

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