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NASCAR fans are less than two months away from 40,000 horsepower rolling past the start-finish line at Daytona International Speedway, when the 53rd edition of the Daytona 500 will celebrate the start of the 2011 Sprint Cup season. But the ever-changing landscape of stock car racing means that there is plenty to keep tabs on during the short offseason before another year begins.

That is where Athlon Sports steps in and delivers a 12-second pit stop to get you refueled for the year to come.

The 2011 Athlon Sports Racing annual hits newsstands on Jan. 18, in essence signaling fans to start their engines for another year of Sprint Cup action. Athlon's ninth annual NASCAR preview magazine prepares fans for the 36-race season like never before, giving race fans thorough driver-by-driver breakdowns, track previews for all 23 Sprint Cup locations, Chase for the Championship predictions and in-depth features covering issues unique to 2011.

Athlon Sports Racing editor Matt Taliaferro prepares fans with an all-encompassing 2011 Season Preview: Surveying the Landscape of the Sprint Cup Series, while also taking time to honor the best and worst of 2010 with his Athlon Awards and holds nothing back in the hard-hitting feature 13 Tough Questions. What's to blame for NASCAR's sagging TV ratings and attendance numbers? Are tweaks to the playoff Chase format needed? You'll get the politically incorrect answers to these and other pertinent issues in this yearly fan-favorite.

Still worried about the long-term growth of the sport we all love? Cashed Out: Four Stories, Four Differing Perspectives, will give the Sprint Cup circuit a thorough fiscal check-up, while uncovering the (sometimes ugly) financial realities alive in professional auto racing today.

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And what about Junior? Fans of Driver 88 have been plenty worried about Dale Earnhardt Jr. since his migration to Hendrick Motorsports. The Curious Case of Dale Earnhardt Jr. analyzes the current state of his career. He is riding around in the best equipment and has loads of talent ... so why can't he finish higher than 21st in the points standings? Athlon Sports talks to him and those close to him — including new crew chief Steve Letarte — to get some answers.

Athlon also sat down with one of the fiery up-and-comers of the sport when Brad Keselowski answered all of our questions in an informative and revealing Q&A session. And for the true diehards, Athlon serves up a preview of the Nationwide and Truck series, as well. And speaking of the Nationwide circuit, what's the latest on marketing mogul (and professional racecar driver) Danica Patrick? Athlon looks beyond the spin to examine the progress of Patrick's stock car venture.

Needless to say, America's Premier Sports Publisher prepares NASCAR fans for the Feb. 20 green flag on the beach unlike any other media outlet in the nation. So before you reach up and pull those belts tight one more time, make sure you pick up your copy of Athlon Sports Racing.

Pre-order your copy today: Athlon Sports Online Store

And make sure to stay on top of the sport of NASCAR all season long with weekly podcasts, articles, opinions, blogs, track previews and race recaps from Athlon's expert racing staff.

-by Braden Gall