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All Star Race, Hall of Fame weekend recap

Last Saturday night was the annual Sprint Cup All-Star race. If you missed it, you missed a great evening of racing. After storming from fifth place when teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch tangled on lap three of the final ten lap shoot out of the night’s race, Kurt Busch survived two late caution flags, and held off Martin Truex Jr. to win his first All-Star race. The older Busch brother took home a check for a bit over $1 million for his evening’s efforts.  
The real story of the All-Star race was the dustup between  Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. Battling for the lead on lap 93, Busch had a strong run on the outside and Hamlin moved up the track in front of his teammate. Busch hit the outside wall, blew a tire, and into Kasey Kahne, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. A very frustrated Kyle Busch was heard on the radio questioning Hamlin’s ancestry and moaning ‘I had the race won.’  He went on to tell his pit crew to “Keep me away from Hamlin or I swear, I’m going to kill him.”  

Read more: All Star Race, Hall of Fame weekend recap

All Star Race and Inaugural Hall of Fame

For race fans it just doesn’t get any better than this. The next couple of weeks, as we count down to the Memorial Day holiday weekend, we can enjoy one great event after another.
The 26th annual Sprint Cup All Star race returns Saturday night from Charlotte Motor Speedway. No points racing this weekend. Just a no holds barred dash for the cash. Speaking of cash, there is a cool $1 million to the race winner on the line. The race is open to drivers who have won a Cup race in the past year, plus past All Star race winners, the two top finishers of a 40-lap preliminary race, and the top vote getter in an Internet vote by the fans.

Read more: All Star Race and Inaugural Hall of Fame

Hamlin sweeps weekend at a ‘track too tough to tame’

The Lady in black, Darlington Raceway, may have added a few flourishes to her gown in recent years with a new infield tunnel, new pavement and grandstands, but last weekend the track that’s too tough to tame proved to be the same ornery track that the drivers love to hate.
The egg-shaped track in South Carolina’s sand hills is one of NASCAR’s oldest facilities. It’s also the sport’s first superspeedway. In spite of the track’s age, Darlington remains a challenge. Drivers who triumph there view their victories as career highlights.
“Only the best of the best in our sport go on to win at Darlington,” said Jeff Gordon, who leads all active drivers with seven Darlington victories. “When I came along, the history of the track and how it fit into the sport’s history was very well documented. The names Petty, Pearson, Yarborough, and Earnhardt, those were things that stuck out to me as, ‘Wow, if you can win here then you are really doing something.’”

Read more: Hamlin sweeps weekend at a ‘track too tough to tame’

What’s with Jr. driving the No. 3?

Last Thursday, while race fans were looking ahead to Saturday night’s Cup race at Richmond, a most unlikely group appeared in front of the cameras and news media at the offices of Dale Earnhardt Inc. in Mooresville, N.C. Dale Earnhardt Jr. sat beside his stepmother, Teresa Earnhardt. They smiled, laughed a bit and were entirely civil to each other. Richard Childress sat to Junior’s left.
They came together to announce, through a joint effort among Richard Childress Racing, JR Motorsports, Dale Earnhardt Inc, and Wrangler Jeans, that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will pay tribute to his father’s upcoming induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame by driving the No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet Impala in the July 2 Subway Jalapeno 250 powered by Coca-Cola Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

Read more: What’s with Jr. driving the No. 3?

Upsets are special at Talladega

Despite the track’s long-running reputation as the consummate wild card, the reality is that upsets have been hard to come by on the circuit’s largest track.
Historically, racing at the Talladega has been dominated  by the series big names, which makes last year’s winners Brad Keselowski and Jamie McMurray even more shocking.  
Both have since gone on to join new organizations, each of their careers boosted by their Talladega triumphs.
 Keselowski, who now drives for Penske Racing, won the 2009 spring race at Talladega, dramatically emerging from a  late-race multi-car accident to notch his first Sprint Cup victory.  
McMurray won in the fall and used the win as a springboard to rejoin Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates, the men who originally gave him his start in the Cup Series as a replacement for Sterling Marlin when he suffered a neck injury in 2002.

Read more: Upsets are special at Talladega

Get out there and point ’em to death

Did you realize that heading into last weekend's Texas 500, the eighth race of the season, only one driver in the top 12 of the points standings has won a race? That’s four-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson, and he has won three of them. You have to drop all the way to 14th place to find the next race winner, Kurt Busch. Ryan Newman, who won at Phoenix week before last, is all the way down in 16th place. Virginia native Denny Hamlin, the Martinsville winner, who admittedly is playing hurt after undergoing knee surgery is 18th, and this year’s Daytona 500 winner, Jamie McMurray, is a dismal 20th in the standings.
And the brain trust of the sport wonders why there are empty seats every weekend and the TV ratings are not what they were a few years ago. Clearly, times are tough and many fans may not have the extra cash to attend races like they did in the past, but all things being equal, you would think that would increase the TV ratings. It's not happening.

Read more: Get out there and point ’em to death

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