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Richard Petty Motorsports hanging on by a thread

George Gillett is symbolic of a new breed attracted to big time racing several years ago when the sport was flying high. NASCAR had signed an eight-year $4.8 billion TV package with FOX, ESPN/ABC, Speed and TNT.

Fortune 500 company executives who wouldn’t know a fuel injector from a carburetor, began pouring sponsorship

Read more: Richard Petty Motorsports hanging on by a thread

It’s Bristol week: Brian is smiling and the Fords are looking strong

After a tough couple of years, NASCAR appears to be getting its groove back.
The television ratings have been up for all three races. Phoenix and Las Vegas were sellouts, and the competition on the track has been hot and heavy.
For the first time since 2007 there hasn’t been a repeat winner in the season’s first three races. Daytona and Phoenix broke records for lead changes. Las Vegas had 21 lead changes. The season got off to a great start with young Trevor Bayne’s surprising win in the Daytona 500. It didn’t hurt that the newly paved speedway gave us a

Read more: It’s Bristol week: Brian is smiling and the Fords are looking strong

What’s next in this storybook opening to the 2011 season?

It started at Daytona where unheralded youngster Trevor Bayne drove the Wood Brothers’ Ford to victory in his second Sprint Cup start. The cheering and talk show appearance had hardly died down when the following week Jeff Gordon returned to victory lane at Phoenix. This one, his 83rd career win, raised a number of interesting possibilities.
Gordon’s Phoenix triumph tied him with Cale Yarborough for fifth on the all-time win list. His next win will tie him

Read more: What’s next in this storybook opening to the 2011 season?

Wood Brothers still making history after all these years

A look at the sports history helps give perspective to this year’s Daytona 500 victory by the Wood Brothers, NASCAR's sole surviving team from the organization’s formative years. This was the team’s fifth win in the "Great American Race."

The Wood Brothers, Glen and Leonard, won the Daytona 500 for the first time in 1963. Much like this year’s win with young Trevor Bayne behind the wheel, that first win in 1963 had a real storybook quality that not even a Hollywood script writer could have dreamed up.

Heading into the 1963 speed weeks, Marvin Panch, one of the top drivers of the era, was to drive the brothers’ entry. A week before the 500, Panch was practicing in a Maseratti he was to drive in a sports car race a few days before the 500 , when he lost control, crashed into the wall and slid across the track with flames billowing from the car. Among the group near the accident was a young sportsman and modified driver from Cross,

Read more: Wood Brothers still making history after all these years

Remembering Dale Earnhardt’s dominance at Daytona

Ten years ago last weekend, after a long, drawn-out period that seemed like hours of worry and dread, NASCAR President Mike Helton stepped to the podium on national television and announced what we already knew in our hearts, “Today, on the final lap of the Daytona 500, we lost Dale Earnhardt.”

It was the most dramatically horrible driver death in NASCAR’s history. We didn’t read about it in the next day’s paper. We saw it happen live on our TV screens. We saw it over and over in instant replay. Slow motion and actual speed. The wreck was not at all spectacular. We see race crashes nearly every week that are far scarier. Yet this time the window net did not come down. No shots of Earnhardt climbing out of the battered car and throwing his helmet in disgust. Nothing.

Read more: Remembering Dale Earnhardt’s dominance at Daytona

With no more potholes, Sunday’s Daytona 500 looks promising

Last year’s sorry, pothole-delayed Daytona 500 seemed to set a tone that carried forward throughout most of last year’s racing season. Attendance was down. Television ratings were down. And even though Kevin Harvick led the points most of the season, it somehow seemed a foregone conclusion that once the Chase for the Sprint Cup began it would once again be the Jimmie Johnson show. Unfortunately, it was. It got so bad that the most common cry was for “anyone but Jimmie.”

Read more: With no more potholes, Sunday’s Daytona 500 looks promising

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