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Sprint Cup: Hamlin, Harvick, Johnson

Nine long months and 36 races, the longest season in professional sports began at Daytona International Speedway. Sunday, after an exhausting journey that took the NASCAR circus from coast to coast and racing venues as diverse as Talladega, Alabama’s high banked super speedway, to the tiny flat half mile Martinsville Virginia Speedway, the season will conclude. And don’t forget the road courses at Watkins Glen, N.Y., and California’s Infineon Speedway.

Read more: Sprint Cup: Hamlin, Harvick, Johnson

Two to go in the closest Chase ever

It doesn’t get much closer than this. Just 39 points spanned the top three contenders as the Chase for the Sprint Cup headed for Texas Motor Speedway for last Sunday’s AAA Texas 500.
The previous closest top three after seven races of the Chase was 65 points in 2006. Many expected Talladega would shake things up and could work against one of the top three, Johnson, Hamlin or Harvick.

Read more: Two to go in the closest Chase ever

Richard Petty Motorsports is hanging 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 money by the truckloads into race teams.

Read more: Richard Petty Motorsports is hanging by a thread

Martinsville and Talladega can shake up the Chase

It happens every year at this time, but I still can’t help but smile at the wicked sense of humor the NASCAR schedule makers must have had when they put the smallest, slowest track on the circuit, tiny Martinsville Speedway, and the biggest baddest track on the circuit, Talladega Superspeedway, back to back.
What better place to start the stretch drive for the series championship than Martinsville Speedway, recognized as one of NASCAR’s most storied tracks. The historic Virginia half mile oval is the only track that was on the schedule in the first NASCAR season that still hosts the series today.  

Read more: Martinsville and Talladega can shake up the Chase

Hall of Fame process needs work

It’s hard to argue with the Hall of Fame selection committee’s choices for the Class of 2011. The problem I have is should there be a time, say the first five years where they choose more than five inductees for enshrinement in the hall? After all, NASCAR held its first races in 1947. That’s sixty-three years ago. Sixty-three years of racing history.
The sport is very late in establishing a Hall of Fame; they have a lot of catching up to do. Many of the sport’s pioneers have passed on. Many very talented drivers,

Read more: Hall of Fame process needs work

Jimmie Johnson is rivals’ worst nightmare

Jimmie Johnson took the lead in the Chase for the Sprint Cup just in time for the series to roll into Auto Club Speedway where the El Cajon, California native has been so successful. That should have only added to the motivation for Johnson’s rivals. Johnson rolled into the California track last Sunday with the lead in the points for the first time in this year’s Chase. But not by much. Heading into last weekend’s race, he held a slim eight-point lead over Denny Hamlin.
Johnson, who celebrated his 35th birthday last month won February’s Auto Club 500 to give the four-time champion back to back victories and wins in four of his past six starts at the two mile track. He is the three-time defending champion of the track’s fall race. Incidentally they shortened the race from 500 to 400 miles this year. The track will host just one race next season, on March 27.
“It’s a great position to be in, but it’s way too early to think about, to worry about defending,” Johnson said following his runner-up finish at Kansas Speedway. “You have Chase guys running so good each and every week. It is way too early to think about those things. Way too early.”

Read more: Jimmie Johnson is rivals’ worst nightmare

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