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Stock Car Insider – June 12th Issue

Stock Car Insider – June 12th Issue

Upcoming Events in the World of NASCAR

Next week, the NASCAR Nextel Cup teams head west, or mid-west to be more exact, to the 1 1/2 mile tri-oval at Michigan International Speedway. Initially, MIS was modeled after the other great 1 1/2 mile speedway, Lowe’s Motor Speedway. But after nearly 30 years or racing, it has developed a personality of it’s own that no single driver has been able to dominate. Unlike other speedways, since the 2000 season there has never been a single driver to win consecutive races at Michigan.

Don’t run to the store or sit on the toilet too long next Sunday. The races at Michigan tend to go by very fast!!! Of the tri-oval tracks currently on the Nextel Cup circuit, Michigan holds the fastest average race speed clocking in at just over 174mph. Only Daytona and Talladega have faster average speeds.

Next week at MIS, expect Carl Edwards to continue to make his move to qualify for the Chase for the Championship. In three starts at Michigan, Carl has 2-top 5 finishes and 1 top 10.

Also expect the following drivers to do well next week:

Other drivers to note:

Matt Kenseth - Average Finish 8th

Jeff Gordon - Average Finish 10th
Greg Biffle - Average Finish 11th
Mark Martin - Average Finish 12th

Next Week's Schedule:

Nextel Cup: @ Michigan International Raceway
6/17/06 - 10:35pm NASCAR Nextel Cup 3M Performance 400 Practice
6/16/06 - 03:10pm NASCAR Nextel Cup 3M Performance 400 Qualifying
6/18/06 - 01:40pm NASCAR Nextel Cup 3M Performance 400

Who’s Hot?

Denny Hamlin is sitting at the top in a class of outstanding rookies. This year’s rookie class has been compared to the same rookie class that yielded Jimmie Johnson & Ryan Newman. Is Denny Hamlin on the same level as Jimmie & Ryan? Time will only tell, but what we do know is that he is a serious big-time competitor.

Denny started his season with a bang by winning the Budweiser Shootout in Daytona. Since then, Hamlin has posted a 4th place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in the Samsung/Radioshack 500, a 2nd place finish at the Richmond International Raceway in the Crown Royal 400, and a win in this past weekend’s Pocono 500 at Pocono International Raceway. Along the way, his average finish of 16th has been enough to catapult him into the top 10 in driver’s points.

The rest of the NASCAR world is starting to see what Joe Gibbs & Co. have known all along, Denny Hamlin is the real deal!!! Not only can Denny make a mean hamburger and funny commercial, he can drive the hell out of a race car too!

Who’s Not?

Jeez Jeff Gordon, where have you gone? I was hoping last week’s section of Who’s Not? would serve to motivate Jeff and the rest of the Rainbow Warriors to turn their season around. From the results at Pocono, it appears neither Jeff nor the brake technician at Hendrick Motorsports bothered to read my article.

Oh well. If they had, perhaps they would not be in the dreaded 11th place position headed into Michigan next week. Jeff currently sits 25 points out
of 10th behind his ever-charming teammate Kyle Busch. Fortunately for the 24 team, of the last tracks to be raced prior to the cut-off for the Nextel Cup Championship Race, Jeff has always posted strong finishes (an average finish in the top 12). For Jeff’s sake, and his young crew chief’s sake (Steve Letarte), let’s hope the #24 team can turn their season around.

Last Week’s Headlines

The “Tro-Val” of Pocono offers fans and drivers alike an interesting flavor of racing not seen anywhere else on the circuit. The long straight-aways and low banked sharp turns combine to offer the thrilling speeds of super speedway racing along with the finesse driving required for road track courses.

The track, as always, challenged both veteran and rookie drivers in yesterday’s Pocono 500. Just ask the race winner and rookie, Denny Hamlin, and former winner at Pocono, Jeff Gordon. Both drivers suffered setbacks in the race. Hamlin was able to bounce back after a tumble through the infield grass to win the Pocono 500 while Gordon’s broken brake rotor caused a race-ending crash.

It’s safe to say that the teams of Joe Gibbs racing dominated Pocono. Not only did rookie Denny Hamlin win the race, but he did so with teammate Tony Stewart breathing down his neck. In the end, Tony, broken shoulder and all, finished 3rd while the remaining Joe Gibbs’ driver, J.J. Yeley, finished 15th.

Former Gibbs’ driver, Bobby Labonte, continued in his quest to bring Petty Enterprises back to prominence with a 12th place finish.

Probably one of the most disappointing finishes of the day belonged to Carl Edwards. Edwards came to Pocono with high expectations, a fresh taste of victory in his mouth, and an incredibly fast car. After starting 40th, Edwards quickly moved his car to front. However, a pit-stop gone horribly wrong left Carl a lap down and a hopeless chance to get back to the front. Carl finished the race in 25th, and remains in 13th position (122 points out of 10th).
See complete 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Race Schedule