Stock Car Insider June th Issue

Upcoming Events in the World of NASCAR.We NASCAR fans are patriots at heart. And there's no better way to celebrate the birth of our nation than at the most beloved track in all of NASCAR, Daytona International Speedway.

The beaches of Daytona were already a destination for motor sports enthusiasts before Bill France Sr decided to host the first NASCAR event there in 1947. Twelve years later, the track that we all know and love, Daytona International Speedway opened and hosted its first event drawing 41,000 people.Next week, the NASCAR Nextel Cup teams head to Daytona to perform their craft in front of a crowd of 175,000+. Expect the Hendrick boys to dominate.

Of all current drivers with 4 or more career starts at Daytona, Jimmie Johnson (average finish of 6th) and Jeff Gordon (average finish of 13th) both lead the pack.Also expect the following drivers to do well next week:.Other drivers to note:.Dale Earnhardt Jr - Average Finish 14th Kevin Harvick - Average Finish 16th Dale Jarrett - Average Finish 16th.

Next Week's Schedule:.Nextel Cup: @ Daytona International Speedway (all times in EST) 6/29/06 - 2:10pm NASCAR Nextel Cup Pepsi 400 Practice 6/30/06 - 04:35pm NASCAR Nextel Cup Pepsi 400 Qualifying 7/01/06 - 07:55pm NASCAR Nextel Pepsi 400.Busch Series: @ Daytona International Speedway (all times EST) 6/29/06 - 05:10pm NASCAR Busch Series Winn-Dixie 250 presented by PepsiCo Practice 6/30/06 - 01:05pm NASCAR Busch Series Winn-Dixie 250 presented by PepsiCo Qualifying 6/30/06 - 08:00pm NASCAR Busch Series Winn-Dixie 250 presented by PepsiCo.

Craftsman Truck Series: @ Kansas Speedway (all times in Central) 6/30/06 - 12:30pm NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series O'REILLY AUTO PARTS 250 Practice 6/30/06 - 05:00pm NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series O'REILLY AUTO PARTS 250 Qualifying 7/01/06 - 02:15pm NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series O'REILLY AUTO PARTS 250.Who's Hot?.We've been ragging on Jeff Gordon hard of late. Of course, he's probably been ragging on himself too. After a lackluster start to the 2006 season that had him 11th in points, Gordon finally has tasted victory lane for the first time in yesterday's Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway.

Gordon's win yesterday is his 9th career win at a road course making him the most decorated road course driver in NASCAR's history.After starting 11th, Gordon was able to rocket himself through the field and take over the top position in just 50 laps. The entire #24 DuPont team was solid throughout the entire race.

Jeff never missed a mark, never spun out, restarted perfectly after every caution while his team posted some of the fastest times of the day on pit road. This kind of a performance is reminiscent of Gordon during his previous championship seasons.The big question is can Gordon and his team maintain this championship form as they head into the remaining 10 races before the Chase for the Championship? Next week, NASCAR heads to Daytona for the Pepsi 400 where Jeff Gordon has been dominate. In 28 races at Daytona, Jeff has 6 wins, 11 top 5 finishes, and 16 top 10 finishes. For the math challenged, that means on average Gordon finishes in the top 10 in over half the races.

If Gordon wants to qualify for NASCAR's Nextel Cup Chase for the Championship, he'll need to maintain his average at Daytona and finish with another top 10.Who's Not?.The dates have changed, but the faces have not in this week's Who's Not section. Suffering from mechanical failures late in the race, Tony Stewart gave up position after position to finish 28th in yesterday's Dodge/Save Mart 300. The 28th place finished booted Tony further down in the points to 7th place only 23 points in front of Jeff Gordon and 70 points in front of 10th place driver Kevin Harvick.There can't be anything more frustrating for a driver than running in the top 5 for much of the day to end up with a mechanical failure that seals your fate in the race.

While yesterday's 28th place finish wasn't Tony's fault, it can't help to boost the driver's nor the team's confidence. Let's face it, the Home Depot team has been on a backwards slide since the All-Star break. In 4 of the last 5 races, the #20 team has finished 25th or worst. That's hardly satisfactory for a team coming off of a 2005 championship season.

However, Tony didn't earn the nicknames "Smoke" or "Tiger" for lying down and giving up. He is still in the top 10 (barely), and has plenty of time to get back on track before the Chase for the Championship. All teams go through a dry-spell in any season. I'm sure Tony prefers having his dry-spell now while he still has time to recover.

Last Week's Headlines.I know what you're thinking, why is NASCAR at a road course? Because road courses do not offer up the same passing lanes as an oval track, some NASCAR fans are bored by road course racing. What these fans fail to recognize is that road course races help vindicate NASCAR drivers to the rest of the racing world.I find it interesting to see how the gun-slinging road course mercenaries like Boris Said stack up to the NASCAR Nextel Cup regulars like Jeff and Robby Gordon.

Make no doubt about it, the gunslingers come to Infineon Raceway hungry! Many see the typical NASCAR driver as a lame duck maneuvering blindly through the twists and turns of the course waiting to be overtaken by an aggressive Boris Said with a "nothing to loose" attitude.Despite the expert talent of the hired help, it always seems the top NASCAR regulars always prevail. Yesterday's Dodge/Save mart 350 was no exception. The last portion of the race was completely dominated by NASCAR drivers Terry Labonte, Jeff Gordon, and Tony Stewart. While Boris Said flirted with the top 5, he and the other road course veterans never challenged for the lead.

Other notable finishers were Carl Edwards (6th) and Greg Biffle (4th). Each needed solid finishes to make a run at the top 10 in points. Biffle currently sits in 9th place and Edwards is 73 points out of 10th.Terry Labonte posted a team best 3rd place finish for Hall of Fame Racing. By using clever pit strategy, Terry worked his way to the front.

He held the top position for 16 laps before succumbing to race winner Jeff Gordon. Labonte was passed late in the race by Ryan Newman, but managed to hold onto the 3rd place before crossing the start finish/line for the final time.

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By: Jon Vandergrift


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