Denny Hamlin

Pennell’s Picks: Fantasy NASCAR Trends at Martinsville

Jay Pennell looks at favorites and darkhorses for Sunday's race at Martinsville
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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Jay Pennell looks at favorites and darkhorses for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway.</p>
2012

by Jay Pennell

Few sports crisscross the United States quite like NASCAR, and with that, the Sprint Cup Series returns to the East Coast this weekend for the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Kasey Kahne Looking to Rebound

Dustin Long Takes a Spin Around the NASCAR Circuit
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<p> Following a wet weekend in Southern California, Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long takes a spin around the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.</p>

by Dustin Long

Kasey Kahne is not panicking about the start to his season. He’s relieved, in a way, heading into this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway even though he’s 27th in championship standings.

NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

Greg Biffle rides consistency to top

by Matt Taliaferro

1. Greg Biffle  Biffle’s team was the one under the Roush Fenway banner that laid low during the offseason. The result has been third-place finishes across the board. Bristol is usually good to them, too.

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<p> Greg Biffle tops Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings.</p>

9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  The dominating run in the first half of the Vegas race was encouraging, but fading to 10th was all-too-familiar. Bristol should be another top-10 performance, though.

10. Kyle Busch  “Rowdy” is ranked here more on 2012 potential than 2012 accomplishment. Bristol may change that.

11. Joey Logano  So far, so good for the new Logano/Jason Ratcliff pairing. Wonder if he’ll be looking for the 24 this weekend?

12. Brad Keselowski  A fifth is sandwiched between two 32nd-place finishes. Again, potential/accomplishment. And again, that could change this weekend.

13. Paul Menard  Has quietly enjoyed two top-7 runs at Daytona and Vegas. He was fifth in last year’s spring Bristol race.

14. Martin Truex Jr.  If this team ever learns how to finish a race, it’ll be dangerous.

15. Marcos Ambrose  An excellent Bristol darkhorse, Ambrose has three top 10s in six Cup Series starts.

Just off the lead pack: Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman

Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattTaliaferro
 

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The Long and Short of It: New Crew Chief, Engines and Outlook Working for Logano

Dustin Long Takes a Spin Around the NASCAR Circuit

by Dustin Long

Joey Logano says he’s worked with the same sports psychologist teammate Denny Hamlin has, but that’s not the only reason why Logano could do something in Sunday’s Las Vegas race that he hasn’t in more than a year.

After finishing ninth in the Daytona 500 and 10th last weekend at Phoenix, Logano will seek to score his third consecutive top-10 finish — something he hasn’t done since his late-season charge in 2010.

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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long takes a spin around the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.</p>

GOOD SIGN  While Kevin Harvick might have been disappointed with finishing second at Phoenix last weekend after leading a race-high 88 laps, it didn’t diminish his enthusiasm for this season.

After the race, car owner Richard Childress congratulated Harvick on the radio for his run. Harvick replied: “It’s going to be a good year.”

Harvick was excited with his run after struggling at Phoenix last year and finishing 19th.

“They’ve done a good job over the winter,” Harvick said of his team. “And hopefully that continues over the next few weeks in the preparation that they’ve done through the winter.”

PIT STOPS  Goodyear held a tire test Tuesday at Rockingham Speedway in preparation for the April 15 Camping World Truck Series race there, the first NASCAR race at that track since the Cup Series left after 2004. Said Jason Leffler, among the drivers testing: “I’m just looking forward to coming back and seeing 35 other trucks out here racing hard to see what happens when the tires wear out and everybody gets slipping and sliding.” ... Dodge will reveal its 2013 Charger this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Prior to last weekend’s events at Phoenix International Raceway, Penske Racing announced it would switch to Ford at the conclusion of the 2012 season. “We do value our NASCAR program and will be evaluating the opportunities available moving forward,” Ralph Gilles, President and CEO SRT Brand and Motorsports, said. “As those opportunities materialize, we'll reveal our 2013 plans, not only in NASCAR but in other forms of motorsports.”

Follow Dustin on Twitter: @DustinLong

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2012
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Entry List for NASCAR's Kobalt Tools 400

Forty-five cars to attempt field at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Kobalt Tools 400 Entry List
Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Entry list for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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<p> Entry list for the NASCAR Kobalt Tools 400 from Las Vegas Motor Speedway.</p>
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2012
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NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

Denny Hamlin, Darian Grubb come out swinging.

by Matt Taliaferro

Like every other NASCAR landing page on the web, Athlon Sports has a little fun each week ranking the drivers and teams of the Sprint Cup circuit. Our rankings go beyond how each finished the weekend prior and/or where they sit in the official championship standings.

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<p> Denny Hamlin leads the Sprint Cup Series pack with a strong run out of the gate to begin the 2012 NASCAR&nbsp;season.</p>

11. Tony Stewart  Stewart got off to a slow start last year too, and look how that worked out.

12. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Being happy with a top 15 in Phoenix isn’t exactly what you want to hear out of the team. Unfortunately, it looked like a lot of the same ’ol, same ’ol from the 88.

13. Jeff Burton  A good run went bad when the engine went up in smoke late. Otherwise, the 31 team has had a promising start.

14. Jeff Gordon  Made the most of a mediocre day at PIR with a solid eighth-place finish, which is what Jeff Gordon does best.

15. Marcos Ambrose  The results may not show it, but Ambrose and his RPM bunch have been pretty racy so far. They may not be flashy, but don’t be surprised if the top 10s start to pile up as we go forward.

Just off the lead pack: Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Bobby Labonte, Paul Menard, Martin Truex Jr.

Check back each Tuesday for Athlon Sports’ revised rankings, and follow Matt on Twitter: @MattTaliaferro

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Desert Redemption: Denny Hamlin wins in Phoenix

Hamlin holds off Kevin Harvick in Subway Fresh Fit 500

by Matt Taliaferro

The second race of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season — the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway — served as a weekend of redemption for Denny Hamlin.

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<p> Denny Hamlin and new crew chief Darian Grubb win the Subway Fresh Fit 500 from Phoenix International Raceway.</p>

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2012
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Primetime Thriller: Kenseth Wins Wild Daytona 500

Matt Kenseth edges Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle in Great American Race

by Matt Taliaferro

The 1979 Daytona 500 is considered by many to be the most noteworthy in the event’s 54-year history. A snowstorm blanketed much of the East Coast, providing a captivated audience; a last-lap battle for the win, ending in a wreck and a surprise winner; and of course, an infamous post-race fight in the infield between Cale Yarborough and brothers Bobby and Donnie Allison.

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<p> Matt Kenseth wins the first weeknight Daytona 500 run in prime time.</p>

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2012
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Garage Talk: NASCAR, Tweet at Your Own Risk

Twitter a double-edged sword for some NASCAR stars

by Tom Bowles

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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Tom Bowles examines how the social networking site Twitter can be a double-edged sword to high-profile athletes.</p>
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2012
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Pennell’s Picks: Fantasy NASCAR Trends at Daytona

Jay Pennell looks at favorites and darkhorses for Sunday's Daytona 500.

by Jay Pennell

Sunday’s running of the 54th annual Daytona 500 begins the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, and it also marks the beginning of the 2012 NASCAR fantasy racing season. Fans across the land will be preparing their teams week-in and week-out, hoping to celebrate with a championship of their own at season’s end.

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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Jay Pennell examines favorites, steady plays and dark horse picks for your fantasy NASCAR team as the season opens with the Daytona 500.</p>
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2012
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