Tony Stewart

Pennell’s Picks: Fantasy NASCAR Trends at Kentucky

Jay Pennell looks at favorites and darkhorses in Saturday's Quaker State 400
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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Jay Pennell looks at favorites and darkhorses for Saturday's Quaker State 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway.</p>
2012

Over the past three weeks the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has run on new surfaces twice at Pocono and Michigan. While Kentucky Speedway is not a new surface, Saturday night's Quaker State 400 is only the second Cup Series race on the 1.5-mile tri-oval. So while teams will have a slightly better idea of what to expect with the notes built from last year’s event, Kentucky Speedway still presents some unknowns.

NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

Filling in the gaps left by TNT
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<p> Jimmie Johnson finds his way back atop Athlon Sports' weekly NASCAR Horsepower Rankings, besting Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth.</p>
2012

1. Jimmie Johnson  It’s a toss up at the top, but J.J. has more wins and, as evidenced by his top-5 run at Sonoma, is a more well-rounded driver than Earnhardt or Kenseth.

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.   That said, championships are not won on road courses, so Junior’s 23rd-place showing — to be fair, he ran around 15th most of the day — will not hurt his title quest.

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.

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.

Joey Logano Wins at Pocono

Logano scores second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory
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<p> Joey Logano got by Mark Martin to win his first race of the season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Pocono 400.</p>
2012

Of all the race tracks to add a little spice to the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Pocono Raceway was not expected to be it. A 2.5-mile, flat tri-oval that’s seen its share of strung-out racing, the speedway was also recently repaved — a move that doesn’t lend itself to door-banging action.

Sometimes, though, the racing gods smile on the fans when and where they least expect it.

Repaves, Suspensions, Preludes and NASCAR on TNT

The Long and Short of It
<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long talks Prelude to the Dream, the Pocono repave, Kurt Busch's suspension and Joey Logano's contract.</p> <p> <br /> <br />  </p>
2012

It’s rare that most NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers will agree on something, but many share similar opinions of what it will be like this weekend to race on Pocono’s newly repaved surface.

“I am nervous as can be ... because I have no idea what to expect,” points leader Greg Biffle said, a comment echoed by others.

NASCAR is giving teams two extra days at the track with testing Wednesday and Thursday. Thus, Cup teams will be there five days.

Could a Kurt and Kyle Busch combo work at Joe Gibbs Racing?

Oh Brother, Where the @%&$ Art Thou?
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<p>  </p> <p class="p1"> As Kurt Busch works to rebuild his image and NASCAR Sprint Cup career, there may be an opening with a team and a sponsor that helps him come full-circle.</p>
2012

On Tuesday, Toyota became the latest manufacturer to unveil its 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup racecar. It is the second generation of the Car of Tomorrow, which debuted in the 2007 season to jeers and sneers — that is until Michael McDowell walked away from a head-on impact at 200 mph, tumbling down the three stories of banking and emerging unscathed. Since then, most have been on board with the new car, more so following the early 2010 refresh that saw the spoiler and the splitter going the way of the Convertible Division.

Backseat Drivers Fan Council

All-Star queries, Kurt Busch's penalties and grading Darlington
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<p> The Backseat Drivers Fan Council weighs in on racing at Darlington, Kurt Busch's fine and raises interesting ideas about NASCAR's All-Star Race in Charlotte.</p>
2012

Is NASCAR still on a high as Tony Stewart says? What should have been done to Kurt Busch and others for the incidents at Darlington? What about the All-Star Race? Are changes needed there?
Those were among the topics members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council debated this week. And some of their responses might surprise you. Check them out.

Danica Dances with Darlington and Kurt Busch Fined by NASCAR

The Long and Short of It
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<p> Following Hendrick Motorsports' 200th Cup win at Darlington, Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long takes a spin around the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.</p>
2012

NASCAR fined Kurt Busch $50,000 on Tuesday for his actions toward the end and after Saturday night’s Southern 500 at Darlington.

Busch was one of three people fined and one of four people placed on probation.

NASCAR put Busch on probation until July 25, citing Busch for “reckless driving on pit road during the race’’ and for being involved in an altercation with another competitor after the race.

NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

Greg Biffle holds the field at bay
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<p> Brad Keselowski earned his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the year at Talladega, but Greg Biffle holds serve atop Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings.</p>
2012

1. Greg Biffle   Found himself in roughly the same position at Talladega as he was in at Daytona ... which isn’t bad when you’re clicking off top 5s like it’s the ARCA Series.

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Doesn’t seem able to finish outside of the top 10 if he tries, but this is Dale Earnhardt Jr. we’re talking about, so only a win will keep the critics at bay.

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