NASCAR

2012 Daytona 500 Entry List

Forty nine drivers are entered for NASCAR's 54th annual Daytona 500

2012 Daytona 500 Entry List
by Matt Taliaferro

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<p> The Entry List for the 2012 Daytona 500.</p>
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2012
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10 Tough NASCAR Questions: Part 4

Part 4 in a five-part series addressing issues facing NASCAR in 2012

As the 2012 NASCAR season approaches, Athlon Sports examines 10 controversial issues alive within the sport in the annual five-part, 10 Tough Questions feature, running throughout the week.

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<p> As the 2012 NASCAR season approaches, Athlon Sports examines 10 controversial issues alive within the sport in the annual five-part, 10 Tough Questions feature, running each day throughout the week.</p>
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2012
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2012 Budweiser Shootout Eligibility List

Drivers eligible for NASCAR's Bud Shootout at Daytona

2012 Budweiser Shootout
by Matt Taliaferro

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<p> Eligibility list and entered drivers for the 2012 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona.</p>
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2012
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10 Tough NASCAR Questions: Part 3

Part 3 in a five-part series addressing issues facing NASCAR in 2012

Was the nail-biting finish to the 2011 Chase a result of the new points system, a one-year anomaly … or a sign of things to come?

At some point, NASCAR’s tinkering, toying and manipulation of the point system had to produce the desired effect, right?

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<p> As the 2012 NASCAR season approaches, Athlon Sports examines 10 controversial issues alive within the sport in the annual five-part, 10 Tough Questions feature, running each day throughout the week.</p>

Kurt Busch vs. Roger Penske: What is Kurt’s future in the sport?

Racing’s old dog learned a new trick last offseason on the national power of YouTube. Kurt Busch’s verbal deconstruction of Jerry Punch, a two-minute temper tantrum captured on a camera phone, had well over 600,000 views by the time sponsor Shell Pennzoil forced its business partner, Roger Penske, to pull the trigger on some amateur negative branding. So yes, in that sense it was the only choice for a man in his 70s whose inability to stop this monster showcased his age and waning power. Honestly? It’s shameful for Penske that it took a fan sneaking around with a smart phone to force a firing of a driver whose vicious attitude and verbal assaults were all too well known to those in the garage.

At this point for Penske, it’s worth the short-term fallback in performance the No. 22 team may experience — and at least AJ Allmendinger will actually want to come to work every Sunday. As for Kurt, he claimed in an awkward YouTube video of his own that a sports psychologist combined with a fresh start will “make racing fun again.”

That’s hard to believe, but history isn’t: There’s never been a former champion who’s won at least one race every year for a decade straight sitting on the sidelines without a top-tier ride at Daytona. But talent trumps all, and Busch will man the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevy this season for James Finch, who has vowed not to put up with the petulant antics Busch has displayed in the past. Not that it matters, really. Busch’s deal is for one-year, and by the time that year is up, it’s our prediction that he and Finch will have had about enough of each other.


Visit AthlonSports.com each day throughout the month of February for exclusive preseason coverage of the 2012 NASCAR season. 

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2012
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10 Tough NASCAR Questions: Part 2

Part 2 in a five-part series addressing issues facing NASCAR in 2012

Why has NASCAR taken one of the fans’ favorite venues on the circuit at Lucas Oil Raceway, and replaced it with a track that typically does not host the most exciting brand of stock car racing?

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<p> <span>As the 2012 NASCAR season approaches, Athlon Sports examines 10 controversial issues alive within the sport in the annual five-part, 10 Tough Questions feature, running each day throughout the week.</span></p>

Richard Childress vs. Kyle Busch: Did Kyle have it coming?

Following Busch’s on-track and post-race pit road run-in with RCR driver Kevin Harvick at Darlington, Richard Childress made it clear to Kyle Busch and NASCAR that if Busch damaged his vehicles again, there’d be hell to pay.

Richard Childress, to no one’s surprise, is a man of his word.

When Busch got physical with RCR driver Truck Series rookie Joey Coulter one month later at Kansas Speedway, Childress made good on his promise, hunting Busch down in the garage, putting him in a headlock and force-feeding him a few knuckle sandwiches.

It’s important to remember that this “feud” has roots stretching back well over a year. Busch had been involved in other incidents with Harvick, the mild-mannered Jeff Burton and former RCR driver Clint Bowyer. Harvick had also mixed it up with Busch’s teammates, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin. So this episode may have been bigger than just Childress vs. Busch — indeed, it seems the 65-year-old team owner was sending a message to Joe Gibbs Racing.

The Kansas incident was the breaking point, though, and although Busch claimed to have not known of Childress’ declaration that he would tolerate no more, Busch took the brunt of the message.

Childress, who’s been in the sport since 1969, still appreciates the value of a buck. As Busch’s antics sent the fab bill in Welcome, N.C., higher and higher, Childress handled the situation in the same manner any number of rivals do on short tracks all across America every weekend.

Was it right? Probably not. Did Busch have it coming? Oh yeah. And NASCAR seemed to think so as well, as Childress got off with a $150,000 fine and probation.

Word is, donations were pouring in almost immediately.


Visit AthlonSports.com each day throughout the month of February for exclusive preseason coverage of the 2012 NASCAR season.
 

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2012
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10 Tough Questions: Part 1

Part 1 in a five-part series addressing issues facing NASCAR in 2012

What was the reason for the rash of 2011 postseason crew chief changes on championship-caliber teams?

A perfect storm of circumstances and a desire to stay ahead of the competition at all costs.

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<p> <span>As the 2012 NASCAR season approaches, Athlon Sports examines 10 controversial issues alive within the sport in the annual five-part, 10 Tough Questions feature, running each day throughout the week.</span></p>

Will Danica Patrick’s success or failure in the Nationwide Series determine the long-term future for women in NASCAR? And how will she do, anyways?

Let's get this disclaimer out of the way first: Patrick is a fine driver who has paid her dues over the years and proven she can race and do so competitively in other forms of motorsports. That said, there’s no denying Danica is a marketing phenom. Her camp is a savvy bunch, and those smarts coupled with Patrick’s willingness to “play the game” have enabled her to obtain funding. Her brand brings in the bucks, aligning with a sponsor willing to exchange cash for sex appeal (despite some of it being tongue-in-cheek “comedy”).

That said, her level of success in the Nationwide Series may not have any effect on other women trying to get noticed. Why? Because regardless of their talent, they don’t have what Patrick does: Fame. Fame like most will never know. Patrick topped the list of Yahoo’s most searched athletes on the internet in 2011. Think about that. Think about the Sharapovas, Jeters, Tigers, Serenas and Kobes of the world. Danica bested them all. How does one ride those coattails?

That undying interest in the model/spokesperson/driver transcends NASCAR and, therefore, places her on a plane few in any sport can comprehend. At this point — and despite her success (or lack thereof) in NASCAR — Danica is more of a sports celebrity/marketing trailblazer than a stock car pioneer.

Well-funded and secure, Patrick will find her way in the Nationwide Series this year, post respectable showings (thanks in part to a financially unbalanced field) and move on to the Cup Series in 2013 where the true test lies. And that’s where the rubber meets the road, because no driver, regardless of financial backing, can enjoy a long and successful residence in the Cup Series without results.

There have been many women who have made a run at NASCAR glory and fallen well short — not that Danica will. But no matter what the racing future holds, let’s just not anoint her as some Jackie Robinson type, opening doors in a sport that, fairly or unfairly, has been pegged as a chauvinistic Boys Club over the years.


Visit AthlonSports.com each day throughout the month of February for exclusive preseason coverage of the 2012 NASCAR season.
 

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2012
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Tony Stewart Wins NASCAR Sprint Cup Title

Stewart, Carl Edwards stage battle for the ages in Homestead

by Matt Taliaferro

With apologies to Bill Elliott and the late, great Alan Kulwicki, the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season finale may be the best the sport has ever seen.

Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards entered the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway separated by a scant three points in the championship standings, and each man’s clutch performance over the 10-race Chase almost guaranteed a showdown unlike any other in Homestead.

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<p> Tony Stewart completed one of NASCAR's most unlikely championship runs, beating Carl Edwards in the Ford 400 to clinch his third Sprint Cup title.</p>

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Homestead-Miami Speedway

Previewing the Ford 400

by Matt Taliaferro and Nathan Rush


Race: Ford 400
Track: Homestead-Miami Speedway
Location: Homestead, Fla.
When: Sunday, Nov. 20
TV: ESPN (3:00 p.m. EST)

Specs: 1.5-mile oval; Banking/Straightaways: 4°; Banking/Turns: Variable (18°-20°)

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<p> Athlon previews this Sunday's Ford 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway, which will decide the NASCAR's 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup.</p>

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Chasing NASCAR's Best Championship Battles

The 2011 Chase is a good one, but is it the best ever?

by Vito Pugliese

Just three points separate Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards as they settle the 2011 Sprint Cup championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway. But is this really the greatest (or even the closest) title fight ever? Athlon Sports contributor Vito Pugliese takes a look back at the greatest last-lap championship finishes in NASCAR’s history.

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<p> <span style="font-size:12px;">Just three points separate Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards as they settle the 2011 Sprint Cup championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway. But is this really the greatest (or even the closest) title fight ever? Athlon Sports contributor Vito Pugliese takes a look back at the greatest last-lap championship finishes in NASCAR’s history.</span></p>

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