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FANTASY: Brushing Up on Atlanta

Oral-B USA 500 Fantasy Preview
Thursday, August 28, 2014

Atlanta Motor Speedway is set to host its only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season.  While it will be the first visit in 2014 for the Sprint Cup Series, the 1.5-mile intermediate layout is one that the series should be quite familiar with at this point.

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FANTASY: Pure Need For Speed

Pure Michigan 400 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Michigan International Speedway is all about one thing: speed.  At two miles around, it measures out to be one of NASCAR's largest ovals not to use a restrictor plate for speed regulation.  That means it's a pedal-to-the-medal, fastest-car-wins kind of weekend.

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FANTASY: Bowling for a Winner

GoBowling.com 400 Fantasy Preview
Thursday, July 31, 2014

This is the time of year when the championship contenders truly take shape.  With a new package on the cars in 2014, it's possible that some teams just missed the setup in the first race at track.  Pocono is the first track of the season where a team really gets to test what it learned with a second race.

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FANTASY: Beating the Brickyard

Brickyard 400 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Both NASCAR and the staff at NHMS had the opportunity to recharge with an open weekend.  Both will now put their focus toward a strong Chase performance and end to the season.

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FANTASY: Daytona Fireworks

Coke Zero 400 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, July 2, 2014

It is the only night, restrictor plate race on the schedule.  Both of those elements makes for an exciting race, and together, they lead to a real firework-style, spark-flying, boom-and-bang experience.

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FANTASY: Kentucky's Other Big Race

Quaker State 400 Fantasy Preview
Thursday, June 26, 2014

Expectations remain undefined as the Sprint Cup Series heads to Kentucky Speedway for the weekend.  The track has only been on the schedule for four seasons, so there's not a lot of track history for the Sprint Cup Series.

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FANTASY: A Winding Road in Wine Country

Toyota/Save Mart 350 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, June 18, 2014

No surprise: this week's top fantasy option is yet another offering from the Hendrick stable.

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FANTASY: Father's Day at Michigan

Quicken Loans 400 Fantasy Preview
Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Sprint Cup Series heads to Michigan International Speedway for the traditional Father's Day race.  Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!  Thanks for always being there to say "yes" after Mom said "no."

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FANTASY: Welcome to the Concrete Jungle

FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks Fantasy Preview
Friday, May 30, 2014

Length is the only thing that Dover has in common with New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  The track is highly banked and surfaced with concrete, making it more like a large Bristol than a replica of NHMS.

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FANTASY: 600 Miles of NASCAR

Coca-Cola 600 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Coca-Cola 600 is a long race.  It's the longest of the season by a full 100 miles.  That's 100 more miles for things to go wrong: engines to overheat, tires to go flat, driver error (and fatigue) to take out a car or two ... or half-dozen.

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FANTASY: Lighting Up Kansas

5-Hour Energy 400 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Kansas Speedway will host its first-ever night race this Saturday.  The track first opened in 2001 and held its inaugural Sprint Cup Series race on Sept. 30 of that year.  In 2011, it was awarded a second Cup date, and this year, one of those dates will be run at night.

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FANTASY: Thundering Into Talladega

Aaron's 499 Race Preview
Thursday, May 1, 2014

The thunder clouds are rolling on this year's NASCAR season, and it's going to keep getting more intense with the Sprint Cup Series headed to Talladega this weekend.

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FANTASY: Revitalized for Richmond

Toyota Owners 400 Fantasy Preview
Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Easter Break, NASCAR's first off-weekend of the season, is over.  The break should have given the opportunity for everyone to rest after a two-month, eight-week sprint to start the season.

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Easter Egg Hunting for a Win

Three of the standings top-five winless entering break
Friday, April 18, 2014

The first break of the year gives drivers the opportunity to assess their season after eight races and figure out where they stand in comparison to the field.  With the new Chase format, winning is the key to success.  A win more or less guarantees a driver a Chase spot this postseason.

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FANTASY: A Southern Tradition

Bojangles' Southern 500 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will race at Darlington Raceway for the 111th time this Sunday.  The series first raced there in 1950, and most anyone that's anybody in racing history has won there.

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FANTASY: NASCAR Just Got Bigger

Duck Commander 500 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, April 2, 2014

From the state that's brought us the Super Bowl/Final Four-hosting monstrosity of AT&T (Cowboys) Stadium and the Big Texan 72 oz. steak challenge (finish it in an hour and it's free), we now have the world's largest TV screen: The Big Hoss.

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FANTASY: Keep Turning Left

STP 500 Fantasy Preview
Thursday, March 27, 2014

This Sunday, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will race 500 laps around the 0.526-mile oval of Martinsville Speedway.  The track is the shortest and one of the oldest in the series.

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FANTASY: It's Bristol, Baby!

Food City 500 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, March 12, 2014

This weekend marks the first go-around of adult bumper cars for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as it heads to Bristol Motor Speedway.  Racing on one of the shortest tracks in NASCAR, drivers don't complete 500 laps with a car in pristine condition.  They simply don't.

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FANTASY: Only In Vegas

Kobalt 400 Fantasy Preview
Thursday, March 6, 2014

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will stay out West for the first cookie-cutter race of the season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this Sunday.  This is Vegas's only race of the season, but it's not the drivers's only trip to Sin City.

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FANTASY: Rise Like a Phoenix

The Profit on CNBC 500 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The field will let out a collective sigh this weekend as it heads for a track with a little more self-control over one's destiny.  Let's take a look at who might raise our fantasy teams in the desert:

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Chasing the Unpredictable

A preseason look at the 2014 Chase contenders
Wednesday, February 19, 2014

NASCAR's new championship format is designed to open the window of opportunity for more drivers to have a shot at making the Chase for the Sprint Cup.  It's supposed to make things more unpredictable, and for prognosticators like myself, it's just that: harder to predict.

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Fully Digested: NASCAR's Championship Format

Why the new Chase Grid format matches the demand from the fans
Thursday, February 6, 2014

NASCAR President Mike Helton stated that as fans, teams and media members "digest" the information, they'll come to gain more of an understanding.  His connotation is correct.

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The Sprint Media Tour kicks off in Charlotte on Monday and The Granite Stripe will be in attendance to provide fans of New Hampshire Motor Speedway with on-site coverage of the event.

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14 Predictions for 2014

14 realistic possibilities for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season
Tuesday, January 7, 2014

We're in the silly season of NASCAR.  You know?  When there's really nothing going on, so we all just kind of throw some ideas at the wall and see what sticks?

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The Granite Stripe's 2013 Awards Ceremony

Non-traditional awards for the 2013 NSCS season
Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Here at the Granite Stripe, we're not in Las Vegas.  We're in cold New Hampshire waiting for the snow to fall, so I'm going to give out our own awards.  There's no real rhyme or reason to them; these are just fun gag prizes.

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FANTASY: Two Chasers, Two Races

AdvoCare 500 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, November 6, 2013

While there might be several drivers still mathematically capable of winning the championship, only two are still logically in the running: Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth.

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FANTASY: Deadlocked for Texas

AAA Texas 500 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, October 30, 2013

There's no longer a points leader in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  With three races to go, the lead is split between Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth, as the series heads to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend.

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The Consistency of Kenseth

Can the No. 20 beat Jimmie Johnson at this own game?
Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NASCAR champions don't have bad days, especially not in the Chase.  The championship formula set forth by a certain five-time winner doesn't allow for that.

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FANTASY: Paperclipping a Championship Resume

Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The good news for the Chaser drivers is that the top five contenders, the only five that still had a legitimate shot at the title, emerged no worse for the wear at Talladega.

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FANTASY: The Real Chase Wild Card

Camping World RV Sales 500 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, October 16, 2013

As last fall's 25-car pileup on the final lap proved, it really doesn't matter how you do over the course of the first 187 laps of the 188-lap race.  You can lead every lap or you can bumble along in the back of the pack, there's no guarantee where you'll be when the checkered flag flies.

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FANTASY: Banking on America

Bank of America 500 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, October 9, 2013

As Kevin Harvick can attest, it's now or never time in the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup.  If you're not positioning yourself for a championship run right now, then you're getting passed by the leaders and going a lap down.  And, no, there's no Lucky Dog in the points standings.

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FANTASY: Yellow Brick Road to the Cup

Hollywood Casino 400 Race Preview
Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Chase for the Sprint Cup really heated up last weekend with five-time champion Jimmie Johnson winning the race.  It assured points leader Matt Kenseth that it would indeed be a battle to the season's final checkered.

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FANTASY: The Concrete Chase

AAA 400 Fantasy Preview
Thursday, September 26, 2013

Two Chase races, two Matt Kenseth wins.  The 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup seems to be shaping up like the 2011 season, when Tony Stewart won the first two Chase races and five in the 10-race stretch to edge Carl Edwards for the championship.

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FANTASY: Chasing the Magic

SYLVANIA 300 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, September 18, 2013

We're fortunate enough to host one of the 10 races in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and we approach that responsibility with honor.  For us, as well as the drivers, we expect to be in top form in September.

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FANTASY: Let the Chase Begin (?)

GEICO 400 Fantasy Preview
Thursday, September 12, 2013

I put a question mark in the title of the post because, as I write this on Thursday morning, it's still unclear if the Chase field is set or not.  The Chase opener is just a few days away, and the fantasy world needs to move forward regardless.

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FANTASY: Race for the Chase

Federated Auto Parts 400 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, September 4, 2013

There are many other real scenarios for drivers like Kurt Busch (10th), Jeff Gordon (11th), Truex Jr. (13th), Newman (14th) or Brad Keselowski (15th).  Only three of those five will make the Chase and all could really use a win to seal the deal.  In fact, every driver but Keselowski stands a good chance at earning a Chase ticket simply by winning.

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FANTASY: Labor Day Comes Early

AdvoCare 500 Fantasy Preview
Thursday, August 29, 2013

While most of the country will be enjoying the long weekend, the drivers of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will need to work straight through Sunday night in order to have an enjoyable Monday off.

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FANTASY: One Wild Night

Irwin Tools Night Race Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sure, the Daytona 500 is the Super Bowl of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  Winning it is the Holy Grail of NASCAR, and fans put it on their bucket list.  However, you'd be hard pressed to find a fan that wouldn't at least consider attending the Bristol Night Race over Daytona.

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Floating the Chase Bubble

With three weeks left, final Chase spots remain wide open
Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Joey Logano's win this past weekend did nothing to clear up the Race for the Chase picture.  In fact, that picture might as well be turned around and pointed at the wall.  With three races left before the Chase begins, the only thing we really know for sure is that we don't know anything at all.

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FANTASY: The Pure Truth About Michigan

Pure Michigan 400 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Entering the June race, Ford had sent just two of the last 11 cars to Michigan's Victory Lane.  Then, Greg Biffle went out and won that race in a Ford, his second consecutive win at the track.  Does that prove that Ford is back in style at MIS?  Not necessarily.

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Tony Stewart's Injury Evaluation

Sprint car wreck causes disappointing end to title hopes
Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A week ago Monday, Tony Stewart's Sprint Cup Series season was, by all intents and purposes, over.  He was in a dogfight for the a spot in the Chase.  An injury ended those title hopes.

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FANTASY: Not Your Normal Week

Cheez-It 355 at The Glen Fantasy Preview
Thursday, August 8, 2013

I'll be perfectly honest: I'm on vacation this week.  However, I'd hate to leave everyone's fantasy team aimlessly turning left, and that's especially true with this weekend's race on the road course at Watkins Glen.

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FANTASY: Triangulating a Win

GoBowling.com 400 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, July 31, 2013

When it comes to predicting a NASCAR winner, you can't triangulate anything with the stars.  Sorry, celestial fans.  But, when the Sprint Cup Series visits Pocono Raceway (the Tricky Triangle), it's time triangulate for success.

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FANTASY: One Brick at a Time

Crown Royal Presents The Samuel Deeds 400 at The Brickyard Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The foundation is set, the bricks are laid, now it's time to build toward a championship.  Some drivers are well on their way, some aren't, and most are in between.

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Race for the Chase Stock Report: Up, Down, All-Around

Three Chase contenders whose title hopes are changing
Tuesday, July 23, 2013

In many cases, a win could have a huge impact on the Chase field.  Of course, it's not out of the question for any of the drivers ranked 11-20 to clinch via a top-10 standing.

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FANTASY: The Magic of Our Mile

Camping World RV Sales 301 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The ultimate goal for the weekend?  Visiting victory lane after the Camping World RV Sales 301, which will run Sunday at 1 p.m.  Here's a look at the best Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing options that might lead their team managers to victory this weekend.

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FANTASY: Daytona's Fireworks

Coke Zero 400 Fantasy Preview
Thursday, July 4, 2013

It's the time of year that drivers have positioned themselves in a position to make the Chase or are working their tails off to get in that position.  The notion of an increased level of unpredictability is not exactly what their championship hopes need, but that's racing.

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Is Kenseth the Kryptonite?

Johnson's points lead grows, but Kenseth wins again
Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Jimmie Johnson, the five-time champion, has looked nothing short of Superman as he's racked up a series-leading 11 top-10s.  But, he's not invincible and Matt Kenseth could be his kryptonite.

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FANTASY: Close to the Quaker State

Quaker State 400 Fantasy Preview
Thursday, June 27, 2013

By all accounts, last year's experience went much smoother with a year of experience, and the third time will likely be the charm in turning Kentucky into a Cup regular.  However, from a fantasy standpoint, it's still hard to pick a team based on just two races worth of statistics.

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Perseverance Pays Off

Truex Jr.'s patience gets rewarded with Sonoma win
Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Martin Truex Jr. won is first Cup Series race in June 4, 2007 at Dover International Speedway.  At the age of 27, it was a breakthrough for a young driver in just his second full Cup season, and it was expected to be a step for his emergence as a star in the sport.

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Seven (Wild) Card Studs

Contenders or pretenders? Who is most likely to make the Chase?
Wednesday, June 19, 2013

As the weather has heated up, so too has the NASCAR Race for the Chase.  In the past three weeks, two 2012 Chasers have broken out of slumps to win races and declare their candidacy for the Sprint Cup Trophy.

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FANTASY: Catching Up with Ford

Quicken Loans 400 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, June 12, 2013

If there's a week for Ford to turn around its slow start with the Generation-Six car that debuted in February, it will be this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.

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Five Drivers That Could Beat Five-Time

Jimmie Johnson's dominant season continues at Pocono
Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mother Nature might have placed him on the pole at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, after rain washed out qualifying, but by leading 128 of 160 laps, he proved that his position was deserved.  After all, Johnson earned that position because of his season long dominance.

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FANTASY: Get the Party Started

Party in the Poconos 400 Race Preview
Wednesday, June 5, 2013

f you can't finish in the top-10, you still might go chasing if you can find victory lane a few times in the final 13 races of NASCAR's season.That's significant this week at Pocono, as five of the last six races winners at the track currently sit outside the top-10.

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FANTASY: The Concrete Truth

FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks Preview
Wednesday, May 29, 2013

This weekend's race at Dover International Speedway marks the halfway mark of NASCAR's Race for the Chase regular season.  It will be the 13th race of the 26 that determine the final list of Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders.

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New England's Got a Color Vibe

Rainy day 5K shows off the region's love for running
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It seemed the harder the rain fell on a day whose high temperature was 47 degrees, the more the cars backed up on Route 106 in anticipation for the event.  It was a staggering number of people that blew away expectations.

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FANTASY: The 600-Mile Marathon

Coca-Cola 600 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, May 22, 2013

When Bruton Smith built Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1960, he wanted to create one of the biggest spectacles in auto racing and run a Memorial Day weekend race that would rival the Indianapolis 500.  His solution: create the longest auto race in American motorsports.

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Rubbin's Racing, Right?

Kyle Busch's name offends fans more than his actions
Tuesday, May 14, 2013

One area on which fans do agree is that Busch was himself on the move at Darlington. His supporters love him for his aggressive style. His detractors hate him for the same reason. Whether or not contact was made, that aggressive move was a signature one for Busch.

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FANTASY: Oh My Darling

Bojangles' Southern 500 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, May 8, 2013

As the trip through the South continues and the Sprint Cup Series unloads in Darlington, S.C., is there any reason to think that a track nicknamed "Too Tough To Tame" will be the one that provides a rare dull race?  I doubt it.

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Low and behold, when the race ended, it was the No. 34 that crossed the line first and brought owner Bob Jenkins and his Front Row Motorsports outfit to victory lane for the first time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

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FANTASY: The Torture of Talladega

Aaron's 499 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Restrictor plate races at Talladega Superspeedway are great to watch if you're a fan.  However, if you're a driver, a car owner, or even a fantasy owner, it's a whole different story.

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The Week That Got Weird

Five Observations of Oddity at Richmond
Tuesday, April 30, 2013

This past weekend's race at Richmond International Raceway was a weird event.  Few of the favorites were anywhere to be found at the end of the race, and the cars that looked the strongest came out of nowhere.

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FANTASY: Start Up the Toyotas, Owners

Toyota Owners 400 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Seven of the last eight races at Richmond International Speedway (RIR) have been won by a driver in a Toyota, which makes me wonder if it's more than just coincidence that this weekend's race is called the Toyota Owners 400.

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The power of expectations have shaped which of the drivers fighting for a Wild Card is considered to being doing well and which ones are considered to be struggling, even if they're all running in the same pack.

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FANTASY: Cookie Cutter Continuance

STP 400 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The crew chief and the teams need to start stepping it up.  There is enough data out there on this track type that the responsibility falls on the teams to roll a fast Gen-6 car off the hauler.

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FANTASY: The Night Time is the Right Time

NRA 500 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cut your cookies and serve 'em with milk.  The 1.5-milers are capable of producing unexpected winners now and again, but it's rare for the intermediate aces to put up a poor finish, barring unforeseen bad luck.

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In this past Sunday's race at Martinsville Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. went for a spin, and when the field came back around as he was re-firing, race leader and teammate Jimmie Johnson pulled by him.

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FANTASY: Keeping It Short

STP Gas Boosters 500
Wednesday, April 3, 2013

In honor of this weekend's race at the shortest track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, wish me luck as I try to keep each thought short in this Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing preview to a single sentence.

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Sliced Bread Prepares His Sandwich

Five drivers not named Jimmie with a chance to win in Fontana
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Joey Logano was born in 1990. Take a minute to let that sink in, as it makes most of us, myself included, feel older than we thought we were.

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FANTASY: Getting Into the Auto Club

Auto Club 400 Fantasy Preview
Thursday, March 21, 2013

After a short-track at Bristol Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads back west for a race on the two-mile D-oval of Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.  The race marks the fifth time in five races that the series will race on a different size oval, and it will be the only race of the season in Southern California.

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At the beginning of the year, I made a somewhat outside-the-box prediction that Kasey Kahne would win this year's Sprint Cup Championship.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming that my prediction was for some car run by the boys at the local auto body shop, I didn't turn a lot of heads with the pick.  However, Kahne certainly wasn't considered as a clear front runner.

After two races with a 36th and a 19th-place finish, I was the one turning my head ... downward into my hands.  Two races later, I've become every bit as confident in my pick as I was when I made it.  Kahne finished second at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after having the strongest car on the day and positioned himself to take a similarly quick car to Victory Lane at Bristol Motor Speedway this past weekend.

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FANTASY: The Thunder Rolls

Food City 500 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, March 13, 2013

First of all, "The Thunder Rolls" by Garth Brooks ... great song. How exactly does it relate to this weekend's race?  Well, where do I begin?

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We've only had three races in this year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, however, the debate that's raging right now is which driver has been the best to start the season: Jimmie Johnson or Brad Keselowski. Fellow GraniteStripe.com blogger Gavin Faretra and I debated his Magic Mile Power Rankings from yesterday that put Keselowski over Johnson in the rankings.  I disagreed.

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FANTASY: The Vegas Business Trip

Kobalt Tools 400 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, March 6, 2013

When the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series hosts the annual awards banquet in Las Vegas in late November, it's all about fun and smiles.  But, not when it visits for its annual race each March.  This early in the season, it's all about business.

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Two years.  Seventy races.  It had been a long time since Carl Edwards last won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race before this weekend's Subway Fresh Fit 500.

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FANTASY: Phoenix's Resurrection

Subway Fresh Fit 500 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, February 27, 2013

If your fantasy team didn't have a great week at Daytona International Speedway, fear not, that's Daytona; it's time to recollect and move on.

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Hello Generation-Six No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet,

My name is Jimmie Johnson.  My friends call me "Five-Time," because I once won five consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championships.  I'd recommend that you not get too used to referring to me by the number of championships I've won, as that number is continually increasing.  If it's okay, I'd like to call you "Gen-6."

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On the first episode of the Granite Stripe Podcast, I made my predictions for the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup's final standings.  Here's a written look at my picks and my reasoning.

Non-Chase Driver of Interest

Marcos Ambrose - It's unlikely he'll make the Chase, but he's a road course expert and he seems to be developing on the ovals.  If he can win both road course races at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen, it's possible he could sneak one of the Chase's wild card spots with those two wins, because he should finish the season in the top-20.

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FANTASY: Rolling the Daytona Dice

Daytona 500 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

It's that time of year again. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is just days away from kicking off its 2013 season, and with that comes the start of a new year with Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing.  For the second year, we are running the "Fans of NHMS" league and I encourage you to follow the link to sign up and play in our league.

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I like sports and the action that pertains to it.

I don't care about an athlete's personal life anymore than I do that of Kim Kardashian's (which makes sense when you consider that she basically only dates professional athletes).

I don't care where an athlete dines, parties, or in whose bed an athlete spends the night.  I personally don't think it's a good idea to bunk up with a competitor, but so long as it doesn't affect the sporting event I watch on Sundays, I really don't care what Danica Patrick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., or the collective two of them do in their time away from competition.

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The car's been covered in the garage all winter, the cover's been collecting dust, but it's time to prepare for spring.

It's time to put away any boxes of Christmas decorations that might have been lazily placed on the hood in early January.  It's time to pick up the jackets and gloves that were using the roof as a coat rack.  It's time to move the sled that the kids leaned against the back bumper ... It's time to prepare the car to get back out on the race track.

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Today's announcement that OSRAM SYLVANIA has renewed its sponsorship of the September Cup race at NHMS continues a partnership that has become synonymous with racing in New England.  The partner first signed on to sponsor the then-Winston Cup Series race in 2003.

Since that first race on Sept. 14, 2003, a lot has changed:

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We like it up here in New Hampshire, most of the time at least.  We have a phrase: "if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes."

We're an outlier when it comes to NASCAR tracks.  We have full seasonal changes.  In the summer, we see the heat that breeds hot laps.  But in the winter, when NASCAR is out of sight, albeit never out of mind, we get to enjoy our snowsports.

Snowmobiling.  Skiing and riding.  Sledding, for the kid that still lives inside of us.  We have White Christmases, snow-capped mountains and frozen lakes.

At least, we did.

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The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tested their brand new Generation-Six cars for the last two days and will continue to so on Saturday.

... At least, those with cars still in one piece will continue to test.

Here are a half dozen things that I noticed in the brief time I tuned in for the testing on SPEED via NASCAR.com.

1. New Cars, Same Pile-Ups

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By many race fans' standards, the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season wasn't the most exciting.  It definitely had some memorable moments: the jet dryer fire in the Daytona 500 started the season; Tony Stewart's helmet throw at Matt Kenseth punctuated Bristol's on-track fireworks; and, the Jeff Gordon/Clint Bowyer melee marked the end of a frustrating season for a No. 24 team still struggling to succeed with the Chase format.

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FANTASY: Racing for Respect

Ford EcoBoost 400 Fantasy Preview
Thursday, November 15, 2012

I'd apologize that I wasn't able to write a preview last week, as I was on vacation in California.  However, I saw three of the four cars I started in Yahoo fantasy head behind the wall at one point or another and scored an embarrassingly-low 157 points.  I really don't feel like missing my advice was detrimental last week.

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FANTASY: The Texas Two

Thursday, November 1, 2012

AAA Texas 500 Fantasy Preview

And then there were two.

The championship Chase is down to just Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski with two races to go.  There are plenty of drivers that aren't mathematically eliminated, but let's be honest, it's down to two!

Johnson is cool and confident, and he should be.  He's won this ordeal five times and knows exactly how to go about business to rise to the top of the standings.  Last week, he finally overtook Keselowski after sitting like a snake in the grass behind him for several weeks.

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FANTASY: Chasing the Tail

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tums Fast Relief 500 Fantasy Preview

Round ... and around ... and around ... and around.  If you like cars going in circles, this weekend's Tums Fast Relief 500 is for you!

Martinsville Speedway is the shortest of short tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at just 0.526 miles.  While the race itself is listed as a "500," it's actually the shortest non-road course race of the season at 263 miles.  The number refers to the laps, not the miles.  As I said, if you like cars driving in lots and lots of circles, this is your race.

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Hollywood Casino 400 Fantasy Preview

Kansas Speedway looks like just another 1.5-mile tri-oval.  As a "cookie cutter," it's usually a place where you can predict the results based on the history of intermediate tracks of similar build.

However, the history books got wiped clean this summer when Kansas repaved the track and created variable banking.  Sure, it might still look the same from the outside, but on the actual track, drivers are saying that old notes might as well be used to spark campfires in the brisk Kansas evening.

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FANTASY: Banking on America

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bank of America 500 Fantasy Preview

EDITOR'S NOTE: Yahoo Fantasy lineups lock early this week due to Thursday qualifying.  It's recommended you pick your team before going to bed on Wednesday night.

The fifth race in the Chase will be a defining moment in this year's championship.  Now that the scraps are all picked up from what was a wild, and frankly unnecessarily dangerous, wreck at Talladega, it's time to get back to normalcy in terms of racing.

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Good Sam Road Side Assistance 500 Fantasy Preview

There's really only one goal for the Chase drivers this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway: don't wreck.  This restrictor plate race is notorious for multiple "Big Ones," and if this past May's race is any indication, fans complaining about follow-the-leader action will be mute this weekend.

In May's Aaron's 499, only 24 of the 43 entered cars finished the race, the 24th of which was Tony Stewart.  Stewart finished four laps down after being involved in multiple wrecks and he famously went on a sarcastic rant about how not enough of the field wrecked out and NASCAR should try to do a figure-8 race to make sure fans got more excited.

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AAA 400 Fantasy Preview

"You want answers?"

"I think I'm entitled."

"You want answers!?"

"I WANT THE TRUTH!"

NASCAR fans, "you can't handle the truth!"

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FANTASY: Chasing the Magic

Thursday, September 20, 2012

SYLVANIA 300 Fantasy Preview

It's race week here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway!  For the second time this year, the NASCAR circus will roll into the small town of Loudon at New England's only Sprint Cup Series track.

At NHMS, we focus on providing the best experience possible in just two weeks of the year, and it's our time to shine.  Riding the golf cart around the facility on Thursday, I could tell a difference even from morning to afternoon.  This place has sprung to life!

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GEICO 400 Fantasy Preview

It's crunch time!  The Chase field is all set and the 10-race shootout for a championship kicks off this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.

For a driver like Jimmie Johnson, he's known for the better part of the summer that a Chase berth was assured.  For his teammate (and car owner) Jeff Gordon, he was looking in the rearview mirror at the Richmond finish line to see how many cars back Kyle Busch was running ... just enough, to put it simply.

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Federated Auto Parts 400 Fantasy Preview

If Carl Edwards wins this weekend, Jeff Gordon finishes in 12th (without leading a lap) and Kyle Busch finishes 23rd (without leading a lap), Edwards makes the Chase (if my math is correct).  That's a lot of "if's," so let's keep it simple.

Edwards has not won a race in a year and half, and Kyle Busch has 13 top-10s in 15 Richmond starts.  The odds of those "if's" coming to fruition are similar odds to, let's say, Aric Almirola (zero top-fives this season) winning this weekend's race.  It's not impossible, but it's certainly improbable.

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The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is most definitely putting the "wild" in Wild Card.

During last week's race at Bristol, the Performance Racing Network read through the long list of drivers that were more or less a win away from racing their way into the Chase.  Afterward, they mused whether NASCAR could have envisioned there would be so much drama when it created the sytem.

I would say, absolutely, yes!

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AdvoCare 500 Fantasy Preview

Most of NASCAR's fans might have a three-day weekend, but there's no rest for drivers on the track.  Bristol did very little to decide much of anything other than that Tony Stewart can throw a good fastball; so, it's on to Atlanta to try to determine who's going to be dancing and who's going to be watching when the NASCAR Chase starts in two weeks.

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FANTASY: The Night Race

Thursday, August 23, 2012

IRWIN Tools Night Race Fantasy Preview

When you ask people around NASCAR the race they'd most like to attend, most experienced fans pass on the Daytona 500 in favor of the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway.  That's nothing against the experience of the speedweeks and the "Great American Race" in Florida, it's just that the race under the lights of the 0.533-mile oval has a certain mythical aura to it.

Nothing speaks to the race's status in NASCAR more than its name.  Whereas most every other NASCAR race is tagged with a number, this race is simply the "Night Race."  Like a husband or wife that emerges from a long line of relationships, it's not the only one, but it is the one.  Other tracks hold races under the lights, but only Bristol holds the distinction of hosting NASCAR's "Night Race."

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Pure Michigan 400 Fantasy Preview

Last week turned out to be a far tougher week than expected.  Usually road courses are rather predictable and I even went as far in last week's preview to say that only bad luck would create unexpected fantasy results.

Jinx!

The only reason I wasn't totally distraught was that I know many people suffered the same bad luck I did.  Why not start the pole-sitter in Montoya?  Or, the part-time, C-List ace in Vickers?  Or, five-time Watkins Glen winner Stewart?  As I said, bad luck happens.; that's racing.

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Finger Lakes 355 at the Glen Fantasy Preview

I know our fans from upstate New YOrk can agree with me that when it comes to traveling from NHMS to that area, it's like accessing most parts of Maine: "ya' cayn't get the'ya from hey'a."

You end up on a windy road through Vermont, climbing the Green Mountains behind some truck that can't get it above 34 mph, watching the minutes roll by faster than the miles.  Yep...I did that trip as recently as late June when I went to a Brad Paisley concert in Saratoga Springs.  It...took...for-ever!

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Pennsylvania 400 Fantasy Preview

I took a vacation to Martha's Vineyard this past weekend.  Only, after falling off my bicycle and fracturing the radial head in my left arm, it turned out to be far from a relaxing vacation.

As I lay on a couch watching Olympic coverage of stuff like women's boxing and men's ping-pong, I gained a new respect for a driver like Brad Keselowski.  A year ago, he busted up his ankle in a test session at Road Atlanta and went out and won a race that weekend.

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FANTASY: Brick Building

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Crown Royal Presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 Fantasy Preview

The final off week in NASCAR's 2012 schedule should have provided drivers with the opportunity to assess their stock and figure out how to save their seasons.  The beauty of the new Wild Card format is that a driver is only a few great weeks away from recovering a season and making a Chase run.

Denny Hamlin said last week of Kasey Kahne's win that he never counted out anyone from Hendrick Motorsports, and made special note that he wouldn't write off Jeff Gordon until it was no longer mathematically possible for him to win enough races to claim a Wild Card spot.  Gordon is probably two wins away from being a Chaser with seven races to go.

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LENOX Industrial Tools 301 Fantasy Preview

Wow!  It's crazy here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this week.  After months of writing fantasy NASCAR blogs about far off race tracks, I finally get to talk about us!

At this point, the infield is filled with campers, the display lot is packed with tents and the track for the SYLVANIA SilverStar zXe Global RallyCross is shaping up.  Despite not being able to set up shop until the Saturday before race week, some campers arrived a day early last Friday in hopes of finding the best possible spot.  In recent days, the camping lots have filled up and the haulers have started arriving in packs.  All we're really missing are the fans, but they'll be here soon enough.

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Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola (and Repetition) Fantasy Preview

Hopefully everyone managed to get in a fireworks show last night.  There were severe thunderstorms rolling through the state of NH right around dusk, so the sky was filled with a different form of flashing light.

I was in Manchester for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats game and the lightning provided quite the "ooh-aah" backdrop in centerfield.  However, it stayed dry, as the storm missed the downtown part of the Queen City.  The home team battled back with two outs twice: they tied it in the bottom of the ninth and hit a walk-off home run (while trailing) in the bottom of the 11th.

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Toyota/Save Mart 350 Fantasy Preview

For those of you that missed the announcement, Infineon Raceway is no more.  Oh, there's still a road course that winds through the vineyards of the Sonoma Valley, it just no longer goes by the same name.

On June 1, the raceway's 10-year partnership with the Infineon company ended, and it is still in the rebranding process as it tries to find a track sponsor.  For the 2012 NASCAR race, it will simply go by "Sonoma."

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Racing is a family sport.  From dads and moms to sisters and brothers to aunts, uncles and cousins, racing families run deep.

Any given weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway proves this.  One example is the Amsoil NELCAR Legends Tour where dads serve as crew chiefs for their son or daughter, and mothers, sisters and girlfriends take the reins for team publicity.  Whether it's videotaping the action, watching from the spotters stand or tweeting a picture of the car in the starting grid, the race is a family event.

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Quicken Loans 400 Fantasy Preview

We at New Hampshire Motor Speedway can appreciate this weekend's race at Michigan International Speedway.  Sure, the distance around the track is double that of our "Magic Mile," but isn't everything built twice as large in the Midwest?

Our main appreciation comes from the cold winters that go months without a wheel on the track.  While most of the warm weather places can go heat the track whenever they want, when we need the heat in winter, it comes in the form of a fireplace and some hot chocolate.

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Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR Fantasy Preview

This weekend's race at Pocono marks a sign of the times.  NASCAR, or should I say #NASCAR, has made a push to be the social media leader among professional sports.  The Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR will be the first of its kind as it officially brands the sport via Twitter by promoting the hashtag.

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I had dinner with a friend last week, and to put it simply he knows nothing about NASCAR.  When referencing auto racing, he did the ignorant air quotes symbol in referring to it as a "sport."

Having been someone that's made the conversion to an auto racing fan, I'm well aware why people are skeptical it is a sport and I'm positive that their skepticism is bread from ignorance.  Watch the Olympics this summer and justify how some of those activities are more sport than auto racing.  (Seriously, didn't archery go out of style with the Renaissance?)

Despite my firm stance that NASCAR is indeed a sport, every once in awhile, I come across something that truly makes me respect the athletic ability that goes into it.  I had one of those moments yesterday when I ate lunch with Chad Walter, who serves as a Penske Racing crew chief for Sam Hornish Jr. in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Walter graduated from Cornell University and played defensive line for the Big Red's football team.  He put his Ivy League education to use as a part of the front wave of car engineers for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Hendrick Motorsports.  He also maintained his athletic prowess by serving several roles in a pit crew, including the big, burly jackman, before ascending to the top of the pit box.

We discussed the difficulty of pit stops and, while I felt ignorant asking the question, I brought up whether or not the team practiced pit stops, like the Cornell football team might practice a set play.

"Five to six times a week," he responded without hesitation.  He went on to explain how the team not only practiced the stops, but they wore helmet cameras and reviewed race tape to figure out how they could be more effective.

I'm willing to bet that your average football jock that doesn't respect NASCAR didn't know that the teams hold film studies with their "coaches," just like in football.  As I suggested, most of the la Continue...

FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks Fantasy Preview

While few readers will notice, I'm swapping the order of my two posts this week.  I'll start with the Fantasy NASCAR preview and complete the more feature-based column once we have the opportunity to spend Thursday with Sam Hornish Jr., as he tours a few local schools.

The "Monster Mile" of Dover International Speedway is similar in name to "The Magic Mile" here at NHMS.  Naturally, it races the same mile distance and, while the Dover oval is more circular with shorter straightaways and wider turns, it's general paperclip shape is the same as that seen here in Loudon.  The tracks are also situated in the northeast part of NASCAR's map.

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Coca-Cola 600 Fantasy Preview

I'd like to apologize for not getting out a Fantasy Auto Racing preview earlier.  (I know there's probably at least four or five people that were planning on reading it thoroughly.)  I always release this on Thursdays, but Yahoo cuts off the time to change your roster in the wee hours of qualifying morning, and that's today, so the "Fans of NHMS" players will only be able to swap their Starters and Bench.

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In most sports, the All-Star Event is marked as the unofficial halfway point in the season.  It's a time to take stock of how your team is performing and what changes might be necessary to get where it needs to be at season's end.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season still seems young.  It's just 11 races into a 36-race slate.  However, with the Chase accounting for the final 10 races of the season, it very much is the middle of what can loosely be referred to as a regular season.

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A 24-Hour Headache

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The old adage of a superstar is that it's better to burnout than fade away.  However, few of us envisioned that a year after putting up a formidable run at the Cup, we'd be watching Jeff Gordon's season burn to the ground by Memorial Day.

Things have gotten so bad for Gordon and the No. 24 team in the season's first 11 races that he trails an actual fader in former teammate Mark Martin.  Martin was replaced at Hendrick Motorsports this year by Kasey Kahne.  With only eight starts, the 53-year-old is fulfilling the role of a part-time driver, albeit quite well.  It was his career that was supposed to be on the downslide, not Gordon's!

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Bojangles' Southern 500 Fantasy Preview

The only thing sweet about "The Lady in Black" is the "darling" in its official name.  I'm not bashing the track, it's own Twitter handle boasts its other nickname: @TooToughToTame.

The egg shaped 1.366-mile oval originally opened in 1950 and has been challenging drivers to beat it ever since.  The track was originally slated to be a standard oval, just like NHMS, but it was interestingly a minnow pond that changed that fate.  The landowner asked that the track not disturb the pond located near turns 3 and 4, so the configuration was reconsidered to account for it.

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Ugh!  For the first time in recent memory, drivers from the Sprint Cup Series are in Loudon for a test session.  In general, NASCAR doesn't allow testing at tracks where the series races, but the test is for Goodyear to work on its tires, so it needs to run on actual tracks for accurate results.  New Hampshire Motor Speedway was selected as one of the lucky four tracks to host this event!

Of course, after three beautiful sunny days, it's pouring buckets of rain today, as the tire test is set to get underway.  As the rain continues to fall steadily and the radar shows no signs of clearing up soon, we're just forced to sit and wait for the cars to get on track.

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Aaron's 499 Fantasy Preview

The Talladega Superspeedway will do anything but separate the cars on the track, but it will be a crucial separation of contenders from the pretenders in the Sprint Cup Series.  As the 10th race of the season, the Aaron's 499 is far enough into the season that most teams should be able to take stock of what they need to contend for the title.

Some teams are sitting pretty.  Some are clinging loosely to a Chase spot.  Some need to find a way to make up ground before the Race to the Chase goes into the critical stretch and leaves them behind.

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They're baaaaaack!  Did you miss them?

The sons of Tom and Gaye Busch are two of the most polarizing drivers in NASCAR.  You either cheer loudly for them or you cheer adamantly against them, but everyone has an opinion on Kurt and Kyle Busch.

After years of watching the Buschs parade to victory lanes around the country, those sickened to their stomachs by the sight finally got a full bottle of Pepto Bismol at the start of 2012.  But, the bottle ran empty quickly this weekend and the Busch brothers reminded that, love 'em or hate 'em, one thing they always did well was win races.

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Capital City 400 presented by Virginia is for Lovers Fantasy Preview

Did you know that we don't plow the snow off our track at NHMS?  We just let it snow and hope it melts in time for  the track's opening day in April.

Did you also know that the don't plow the snow in Richmond either?  No, I'm not talking about the track, I'm just talking about the roads in general.  They just let it snow and immobilize the whole state until the non-existant plows can clear the snow that's frozen to itself.  It's a pretty inefficient process.

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The majority of NHMS fans won't visit "The Magic Mile" until NASCAR does in mid-July, but they're missing a lot of good racing action before that major weekend.  The track heats up in April and doesn't cool down until the end of October and there's plenty of on-track action throughout the seven-month season.

The race season can officially be considered underway at NHMS, as the Loudon Road Race Series kicks off 2012 with the first of seven race weekends on Saturday.  After a full slate of 11 races on Saturday that closes with the headlining "Dash for the Cash" Middleweight Grand Prix, the Amsoil NELCAR Legends Tour will hit the road course for its first of nearly a dozen NHMS races this year.

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STP 400 Fantasy Preview

I usually use the intro to tell some story about a part of the country I once visited or at least give a cute little anecdote, but I don't have anything this week.  I once drove clear across the country and then back on a completely different route, but I've never been in Kansas.

When I went west on I-80, I probably wasn't more than a few miles at some points from the state line while in Nebraska.  I kept looking to the south and imagining that Kansas was out there somewhere, like a Holy Grail of the Flatlands (or maybe I was just looking for a way to get out of Nebraska as quickly as possible).

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If the Sprint Cup Series garage were an ice cream shop, Dale Earnhardt Jr. would be chocolate chip cookie dough; the flavor an overwhelming amount of people like, but the rest feel like there's no excuse to not have baked the dough into a real cookie.  Jimmie Johnson might be peanut butter cup, liked by many, but disliked strongly by those with a nut allergy.  Jeff Gordon could be mint chocolate chip, a good old-fashioned winner.

Then, there's Greg Biffle.  He'd be vanilla.

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SAMSUNG Mobile 500 Fantasy Preview

It's getting to be that time of year when the weather starts getting warm enough at night and too hot during the day, so NASCAR begins sprinkling primetime into the schedule.  Traditionally, this would be the Sprint Cup Series' first night race of the season, but the rescheduled Daytona 500 stole the thunder on that one.

Remember that event at all?  Rhetorical question, I hope!  In that race, we had Juan Pablo Montoya crashing into a jet dryer and Brad Keselowski nearly crashing Twitter by tweeting a photo of the fire on the track.

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Through six races in the 2012 season, Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards have won three of the Sprint Cup Series poles, and they've combined to lead a total of zero laps.  Not zero laps at the start of the race, mind you, zero laps, period!  That's right: neither has led a single lap this season.

That's pretty difficult to do when you assume that they theoretically had the fastest car at the track and started in the front row in half of the 2012 races.  Not only could they not manage to hold off the rest of the field to lead the first lap, but they never once got back up to the front at any point later in the day.

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For six weeks, the New England racing community has sat around on their couch and watched NASCAR, INDYCAR and Formula 1 race in other parts of the country (world, in F1's case).  Not this weekend!

As all three of those series are off and NASCAR takes its first break of the season, it's our New Hampshire Motor Speedway that will provide thrills for fans.  The third-annual FANtasy Drive Open House on April 7 allows fans to hit the track for some laps in their own cars, as well as get VIP access to the infield, suite levels and hospitality areas of NHMS.

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Before we get into the article, please take 30 seconds to review our most recent commercial from NHMS.

No, but seriously, are we qualifying or racing, here!?

There's been a lot of debate this week, as Tommy Baldwin's No. 10 has fallen out of the top-35 in owner points and is no longer guaranteed a starting spot in Sprint Cup Series races.  While the debate swirls around Danica Patrick, whose name tends to stir up controversy anyway, most people seem to be ignoring my simple question.

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There's a certain art to short-track racing that brings most drivers back to their roots.  Similar to Bristol Motor Speedway two weeks ago, Martinsville Speedway in Virginia is more about good, old-fashioned bumping and shoving your way to a win.

At a Cup level that so often rewards the state-of-the-art machines with the best funding, short tracks still put an emphasis on overall driver ability.  I mean, it's certainly not a coincidence that those with the best overall driving ability often end up in the most pristine cars, but this is the kind of track that reminds us what got these drivers to the levels they're at now.

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NASCAR Names

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Awesome!  I'm excited that "NASCAR" and "names" both begin with the letter "n."  The reoccurance of alliteration (two words that start with the same letter for those that don't remember their middle school grammar classes) is going to be the main focus of this article.

We get a lot of questions from supporters about how to get their kids into auto racing.  My first recommendation: make sure you give them an appropriate name.

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Do you remember your first race?  Nevermind...stupid question.

Statistics show that NASCAR fans are 76.8% more likely to recall who won the first race they attended than they are to remember their mother's first name.  If you took my word on that stat, then let me also tell you that research shows 28.7% of people make up percentages on the spot.  (...Wait...is he joking?)

Look, the point is this: nobody forgets their first NASCAR race, and for me that was at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

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In recent years, there have been four large garages in North Carolina and a bunch of one or two-car teams trying to catch up to those organizations.  In 2011, Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing and Richard Childress Racing all fielded the maximum of four Sprint Cup Series cars, while Joe Gibbs Racing fielded a comparable three.  They accounted for eight Chase spots; in 2010, they accounted for 10.

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Ford City 500 Fantasy Preview

Bristol is a great place to watch a race.  It's small 0.533-mile oval with banking of up to 36 degrees makes it a unique experience that puts a true emphasis on continuously holding that steering wheel to the left, while maneuvering between accelerator and brake.

The venue itself projects itself more like the bowl of a football stadium than the open grandstands of a speedway.  There's nowhere for the roar of the engines to go, so it's appropriately earned the nickname "Thunder Valley."

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The Champ is Here!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Subway Fresh Fit 500 in Phoenix was a nice story: a discarded championship crew chief in Darian Grubb helping a disappointed Denny Hamlin find his way back to Victory Lane.  It was an uplifting story of two disregarded Virginians teaming up to move forward from a bitter tasting 2011 season.

For the greater NASCAR community, it symbolized the new year.  The whole offseason, the talk was about Tony Stewart's historic run to the championship, and that dumped right into the Daytona 500 and the media frenzy that surrounded it...which focused heavily on one of Stewart's drivers, Danica Patrick.

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Kobalt Tools 400 Fantasy Preview

Social media really put an end to the age-old phrase that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.  Nowadays, what happens in Vegas will be posted to Facebook and uploaded to YouTube long before anyone begins to piece together a night of debauchery.

Not that it really has anything to do with predicting who will win the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, but I'm sure I can find a way to make my peeve of the week relevant.

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Getting Grubb-y

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The first thing that crossed my mind when Denny Hamlin ran away from the field and left Kevin Harvick's car choking for gas on Sunday was: wow, another win for Darian Grubb!

Grubb has now crew chiefed victories in six of the last 12 Sprint Cup Series races.  That includes five wins during last year's Chase as Tony Stewart's head man and the win at Phoenix this past weekend, as he called the shots for Hamlin.

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Subway Fresh Fit 500 Fantasy Preview

Ouch!  Unless you went with the Fords of Kenseth and Biffle, the fantasy team probably didn't fair too well at Daytona.  The race was every bit as unpredictable as expected, right down to Juan Pablo Montoya's night ending after he totaled his car into a jet dryer while under caution.

While some of the 550+ owners in the "Fans of NHMS" group fielded a comparable fantasy team, only 22 of them put up more than 300 points, an approximate cutoff for what would be considered a really good week.  That's not a very high percentage!

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The Big Bang Theory

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Before I start drawing comparisons to explosions or igniting anything, let's take a minute to appreciate that everyone is safe.  Dan Wheldon's death last October was a tough reminder of just how dangerous the sport of auto racing can be.

Sure, we can look back now and make jokes about the odds of Juan Pablo Montoya having his car fail in the exact spot necessary to spin into a jet dryer.  "It takes just Juan driver to take out a jet dryer," or "the probability of that was Juan in a million."  Yep, the jokes are making their rounds today.

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Daytona 500 Fantasy Preview

There's nothing quite like the Daytona 500.  It's unique in that it's the season's first race, while also being the season's highest profile race.  That's not to suggest that the quality of the race falls off or that the stakes will be lower by the time NHMS gets a few pieces of the pie in the summer.  It's just unusual for the "Super Bowl" of the sport to be the first event of the season.

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2012 Green Flag Preview

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It's time to get ready for the 2012 NASCAR season, so let's open up the closet and dust off the flags, as we get ready to wave them.

Who can we expect to have a big season and who might look like they're racing under yellow?  Here's a preview of some of the names to keep track of as the pack races to start/finish to open up the season.

Checkered Flag Drivers
Drivers that should lead the pack this season.

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There's nothing better than the start of the season!  Everyone's in first-place, every fan base is full of optimism and the year is a blank canvas just waiting to have paint thrown on it.

As someone that grew up on "stick and ball" sports, I've always loved that time.  Whether it was the freshly-mowed green grass of MLB's Opening Day, the cool autumn breeze for the kickoff of the NFL or the crispness of the rink air for the NHL's first puck drop, the start of the season is always fun.

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In 2011, we launched The Granite Stripe blog.  While fellow blogger Travis Barrett focused on regional racing, I spent my time mainly discussing the Sprint Cup Series, since that's what I knew best in the motorsports world.  Each week throughout the season, I'd provide a comprehensive look at my Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing team for the week in hopes that I could introduce the game to NHMS and its fans.

It's 2012 now and it's a big time for me as we have officially launched a Fans of NHMS group on Yahoo.  In today's world of social media, fans have a closer interaction with NASCAR and, in our case, a speedway than ever before. 

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Modifying the Hall of Fame

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Richie Evans was the greatest NASCAR driver never to get behind the wheel for a Cup Series car.  Plain and simple.

On Friday, he becomes the first of 15 inductees into NASCAR's Hall of Fame that doesn't have a direct connection to NASCAR's top level.  And, while he might never have competed in that series, it'd be unfair to assume that Evans wasn't on that level.  That would be a falsehood.

The Rome, N.Y., native won nearly 500 modified races in his life and would drive around Cup level drivers that thought it cute to get behind the wheel of a modified.

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Romney? Huntsman? Newt? Ron Paul? Santorum? Good with Obama?

Don't answer those questions. The beauty of the sports world is that I can generally stay removed from the political debates that no one ever wins.  In politics, the "winner" is usually the person that simply continues talking for longer than everyone else in the room.  It's kind of like if NASCAR just had an endurance race and the last car running won.

I don't care who you vote for.  But, I do care that you vote.

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A Holiday Fireside Chat

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's a tough time in the auto racing world right now.  Unlike other sports where there's over analyzed drafts and extensive free agency, NASCAR tends to have a quieter offseason.  Sure, there are some crew chiefs switching pit boxes and drivers swapping rides, but, like the days of December, the NASCAR landscape gets pretty dark this time of year.

At this point, we're left to scour the internet for news on David Ragan's future and hope that The Orange Cone posts another holiday greeting on YouTube.

So, let's share stories about our year.

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Roger Penske's Message

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Roger Penske's message was clear and decisive.  It brought down the hammer on a long-time driver and set a moral standard that is far too often neglected in sports.

Kurt Busch had driven for Penske since 2006, and the former Sprint Cup champion made three Chases behind the wheel for Penske's team.  However, after Busch melted down late in the season and was fined by NASCAR for his antics, Penske made a move that made the most sense for his organization.

He parted ways with Kurt Busch.

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The Best Runner-Up

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The tiebreaker for the 2011 Sprint Cup champion was the number of race wins.  Naturally, for Carl Edwards and his seven second-place results, he finished the tiebreaker in second.

While champion Tony Stewart amounted five wins in the Chase, he also only came away with nine top-fives and 19 top-10s (just over half, for those of you non-math majors) in 36 races.

Edwards, meanwhile, amassed 19 top-fives (again, over half of the races) and 26 top-10s.  Those numbers haven't been matched by anyone since Edwards went 19 and 27 in 2008.  Care to guess where he finished that year?

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There comes a time in any championship run in any sport where skill becomes irrelevant.

The talent you've worked your life to perfect takes care of itself.  Your mental state turns into an sub-concious where you react with the decisions you've been engrained to make.  Your surroundings fall away into a peculiar, white static, like something in a virtual reality, that you simply tune out.

You're totally focused on the task at hand: winning.  You only see a trophy in front of you and you're locked in, determined to claim it.

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Homestretch at Homestead

Thursday, November 17, 2011

This is it!  The final week of the season.

The final time I'll dig through NASCAR's statistical advance, scrounge through NASCAR.com and check out Yahoo! Fantasy NASCAR stats in hopes of calculating a winning formula.

This weekend's all about Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart, but that doesn't mean there won't be 41 other cars on the track for the Ford 400.

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NASCAR's Game 7

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In most sports, Game 7 is the pinnacle of competition.  The winner-take-all, loser-goes-home-empty-handed crux that defines the thin line between glory and gut-wrenching disappointment.

Auto racing doesn't really have that.  It doesn't have a sudden death goal, a buzzer beating shot or a game-winning field goal.  At least, it doesn't usually have something like that.  That's changed this year.

This weekend's race at Homestead will be Game 7 for the Sprint Cup Series.  Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart will go head-to-head in an elimination round.

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A Mile Full of Questions

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

By now you've probably heard that Phoenix International Raceway underwent a huge face lift this summer.

Only in Arizona is the weather warm enough that you can space races so far apart to undertake these changes during the season!  The raceway changed some of the banking, reshaped the backstretch to more of a dog leg and laid down new pavement on the aging track.

All of these will make this race the Chase's biggest wild card outside of Talladega.

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Living Up to the Hype

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Could we ask anything more from the Chase for the Sprint Cup!?

Well, Junior fans would probably say a race win, but aside from that, we're getting our money's worth this autumn!

Texas Motor Speedway spent all last week building up the Carl Edwards vs. Tony Stewart duel and the two competitors delivered the promise on Sunday.  Stewart dominated the race, but Edwards crossed the finish line right behind him for second.

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Stakes Raised in Texas

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Yesterday, Texas Motor Speedway sent out an email likening the matchup between Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart to a heavyweight boxing fight.

Myself?  I prefer to stick to the stereotypical poker reference to Texas Hold 'Em, as we prepare for the AAA Texas 500.

At this point, it's down to a small Final Table.  Kevin Harvick might have a few chips left, maybe even Brad Keselowski, but the system should blind them out of it soon and leave a heads-up match between Edwards and Stewart.

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What a nice day today!  It's warm, the snow's melting, you can see some green poking through the ground; it's spring, right!?  When's FANtasy Drive?

Ugh.

Nope.  Unfortunately, that opinion falls somewhere between delusional and denial.  We just got an early, pre-Halloween snowstorm before the late autumn warmth restored order to the season today.

Still, the first snow is always a sad day at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  It's the end of the season and it fittingly came just in time to close out the year.

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First of all, congratulations to Dave Blaney.  He finished third at Talladega last week, his best career Cup finish.

But, that leads to the question, what the heck!?

There are 12 drivers allegedly competing for a championship and Blaney's just excited he has enough points to qualify automatically each week.  How did all 12 finish behind him Sunday!?

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No Knocks on Wood

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In 2011, the Loudon Road Race Series featured as many twists as the 12-turn road course it races on at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The year started in the cold flurries of April, raced through the intense humidity of a New England summer and came to a close in the fading light of fall foliage.

For seven months, the series invaded NHMS for a full weekend of racing. Its marquee race, known as the "Dash for the Cash," ran on Saturday afternoons as the Middleweight Grand Prix class.

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Drafting Through the Chase

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The last time NASCAR visited Talladega, it made for one of the most exciting races of the season.  The Aaron's 499 featured a record 88 lead changes, and eight cars raced in four tandem groups with Jimmie Johnson edging Clint Bowyer by 0.002 seconds for the win.

However, despite the finish, the two-car draft has a got a lot of press and stirred up a lot of controversy among the media and fans.  It's been such a discussion that NASCAR has changed the restrictor plate sizes for Sunday's Sam Good Club 500.

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Merely Mortal

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sunday, we were all reminded that the sport we know and love has a dark side.

As race fans, we understand that the thing that makes our sport so exciting and so fun to watch is the same thing that makes it so dangerous.  The shear speed and thrill of nose-to-tail racing at such high rates gives the sport its excitement.

It also gives it its dangers, and, in Sunday's IndyCar race, the excitement gave way to the danger.

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Banking for 500

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Is it the Bank of America 500 or the Bank of America $5.00?

I've been a Bank of America customer for a few years because it's easy to find a BoA ATM most anywhere life takes me, but in the event I don't find one, I can bank on seeing the charges roll on my statement.

This weekend, it will be the drivers of the Sprint Cup Series that will roll onto the banking of Charlotte Motor Speedway in a quest to cash in on the ultimate prize and win the Bank of America 500.

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All In For Vegas

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

With so much energy going toward NASCAR's Chase, it's time to temporarily divert our focus toward the final race of the IZOD IndyCar Series and what poses to be a great race for the championship.

In recent years, the IndyCar championship has been in Homestead much like NASCAR, and, much like NASCAR, the same driver has dominated the series of late.  That's Dario Franchitti.

This year, however, the final race will be hosted by Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and only time will tell if a change in venue will mark a changing of the guard.

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Rising in the Flatlands

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I've never been to Kansas.  I've driven through every surrounding state: Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma and Missouri - when I was within a straightaway of Kansas.  I can attest to one thing: it's as flat as you imagine it to be.

However, despite the landscape of both the state and the current Chase field (nine drivers are on a relatively-level surface), this weekend's Hollywood Casino 400 should feature some mountain highs and valley lows for the drivers depending on their respective outcomes.

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We Know We Don't Know

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

After three weeks into the Chase, we know one thing for sure and that's that we know anything for certain.

...(I'll pause while you read that over again.)

Usually, at three weeks into the Chase, the contenders have started to weed themselves out from the also rans.  Whether it's the change in the scoring system or just an even field of drivers, that hasn't happened this year.

Nine of 12 drivers sit within a competitive 19 points of first.  Who will win is up for debate!

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Monster Mashing

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

This weekend marks the start of October on the calendar and for all you loonies out there that decorate more for Halloween than for the Holidays, the month of Halloween has started.

For the rest of us, we'll just be subjected to feverishly flipping through radio stations trying to find one that isn't playing yet another rendition of "Monster Mash."

At least we can agree on one thing, however, this weekend's at "The Monster Mile" will feature a lot of championships getting mashed.

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Number One Fans

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

As my inaugural season as an employee in auto racing comes to a close, it's time to look back and reflect.  When I first arrived at NHMS, I had a strong understanding of the basics of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  I knew the drivers, I knew how the points worked and I knew that restrictor plates regulated car speeds.

However, in my year of experience, I've learned a lot more about the sport.  The most significant thing I've learned: NASCAR fans are the best in sports.

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Shining the SYLVANIA Light

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

No, sorry fans, this isn't an announcement that NHMS will be investing in lights for a race.

I hear the requests of fans.  I understand the appeal to a night race.  And, I realize that with a company that specializes in light bulbs, like SYLVANIA, sponsoring our race that the marketing is already there.

But, it's not that easy.

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By the time the green flag drops on a race this weekend at NHMS, the weatherman will claim that autumn has started (officially on Sept. 23).

Yet, in New England, we've come to assume the weatherman isn't always right and we won't be listening to him this weekend.  NASCAR's in town and our summer isn't over yet!

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Chicagoland Entertainment

Friday, September 16, 2011

Is it just me or does Chicagoland sound like some sort of absurdly oversized amusement park in the midwest?  It strikes me as the kind of place that would have about two dozen roller coasters and a water park about the size of Rhode Island.

In truth, it doesn't have that, but it will be a giant amusement park through eyes of any NASCAR fans this Sunday.  And, it will certainly have plenty of metaphorical roller coasters with the Chase kicking off this weekend in the GECIO 400.

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Powering Up for the Chase

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I've been writing this blog every week.  I've come up with various stories about NASCAR, INDYCAR, motorcycle racing, an old piece of junk car I owned in high school and whatever other idea seemed relevant.

This week's blog is one of the easiest and, considering we're busy ramping up for the race week here at NHMS, that's a needed relief.

It's the power rankings and the Granite Stripe's predictions for NASCAR's coveted 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup trophy.

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Choosing the Chase

Thursday, September 8, 2011

There's a constant debate among NASCAR fans on whether they like the Chase or not.  That debate has been compounded this year with the addition of the wild card.

Interestingly enough, if the Chase started today, the wild card would have no bearing as the two qualifiers currently sit in 11th and 12th and would have rounded out the 12-car field anyway.

That doesn't stop the argument on NASCAR's choice of having a "playoff" Chase format.

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Heartbreak Holiday

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The writing should have been on the wall when NASCAR postponed Sunday night's race through the Monday holiday by scheduling an unusual Tuesday morning start.

For the majority of fans in Atlanta that meant they'd have to head back to work or school or other commitments and wouldn't be able to watch the race.  For those around the country, it meant the same thing.

For Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne and David Ragan, they might have preferred fewer people watched.

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Laboring Into Atlanta

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

As one of our sister tracks (or is it brother?  I'm never quite sure how that works), there are probably plenty of good things to say about Atlanta Motor Speedway.

There are storylines about how they sadly got one of their race weekend's taken away, but a Labor Day night race might be one of the most appealing of any to host.

And, that brings us to this week's topic: Labor Day.

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Smoke's Got That Fire

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

They say where there's smoke, there's fire.

After racing against Tony "Smoke" Stewart in go-karts last week at F1 Boston, I can confirm that Stewart still has the racing fire in the belly.

Admittedly, it was hard to determine if it was "Smoke" I was seeing or just the cloud of dust he left behind.  Either way, save a few hearty souls, not many of the attendees had what it took to keep up with the former Sprint Cup Champion.

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Bracing for Bristol

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Other than NHMS, where would you most like to watch a race?

Daytona?  Talladega?

When I posed the same question on the website's poll in April, Bristol was the runaway winner with 41% of the votes.

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Five-Time Favorite

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

As we get into the later parts of the summer and the kids start heading back to school, there are a few inevitabilities to accept as we approach the New England fall:

-The weather will get colder.

-The leaves will change colors.

-Jimmie Johnson will be the favorite to win the Sprint Cup when the SYLVANIA 300 races at NHMS.

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Purely Michigan

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I've started to cut down some of the intros to the Fantasy NASCAR Preview.  In large part because it takes a while to dig through the stats and it's usually a busy day. But, I'm hesitant to eliminate it all together.

I figure that you as a reader want some sort of basis and background on the race, not just the bare bones of the fantasy options.

This week's discussion is obvious.  It's purely about Michigan!

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The result of Sunday's MoveThatBlock.com INDY 225 was literally a no-win situation for the IZOD IndyCar Series.

In the waning moments of the race, a caution flew for moisture on the track and, as the Indy cars counted down the laps behind the pace car, INDYCAR faced a tough decision: let down the fans with a caution under finish (no green-white-checkered in this series, or throw the green flag and hope the tires held their ground on the slick track.

The ultimate decision and ensuing mayhem has stirred up plenty of controversy.

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Insurance in Name Only

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

As I pointed out yesterday, the NASCAR's new wild-card set up promises to offer one of the most exciting midseasons in NASCAR history.

This weekend's race at Pocono Raceway is titled the Good Sam RV Insurance 500.  Ironic, when you consider the amount of questions out there surrounding the last several spots in the Chase.

This year, there is very little insurance for most of the drivers!

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Boys, Have at It!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

With just six races left before the Sprint Cup Chase begins, the list of contenders seem to be shuffling weekly.

The addition of two wild-cards has added a new element and allowed for many more drivers to have a shot at chasing the championship.  While most experts predicted added drama, we're only now beginning to see how crazy the final weeks of the Race to the Chase are going to get.

And to that, I say: boys, have at it!

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Kissin' the Bricks

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Indianapolis 500 is the most historic race in America, with this past May's race marking the 100th running of the event.

NASCAR's history at the track doesn't date back nearly as long.  It was only in 1994 that it began racing the Brickyard 400.  However, the prestige is still there.

INDYCAR or NASCAR.  The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is still the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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Kyle Busch has won 100 major NASCAR races.  Period.

He hasn't won 100 Cup races, he's only won 22 and sits sixth among active drivers, in that regard.  He's nowhere near Richard Petty's record 200 Cup wins or David Pearson's 105, but he's won 100 races.

People are quick to discredit Busch's feat because it hasn't all come at the Cup level.  Yet, what everyone seems to be missing is that Busch, himself, has never asked you to view his accomplishment in the same arena.

He just asks you respect his passion and ability as a race car driver.

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This past weekend was my first time in the hot pass areas of the garage and pits of a NASCAR race.

There was a lot in the infield.  Haulers, stock cars, tires, drivers, pit crew members and whole lot more, but one thing I didn't see much of: fat guys.

NASCAR is a sport that requires significant athletic ability; there's just no place for the overweight in a garage.

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This is Sparta!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sparta!

Not so much the one in all the ancient epics, like 300 or Troy, to name a few overly majestic and under-acted films that probably missed the point.

In this case, Sparta, Kentucky, which will host its first ever Sprint Cup Series race this coming weekend.

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Some of you out there could probably give me a lesson on all the places to go and do's and do not's for NASCAR weekends here in Loudon.  If you're one of those people, please feel free to leave a comment below with your gold nugget of advice.

However, others of you might be green to the NASCAR experience.  This might be your first time heading to the race or your first time at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  Or, perhaps, you're just looking for ways to better experience the weekend.

Here's a quick checklist and guide for "dummies" as you prepare for the trip to N.H.

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It's the best time of the year again!  The weather is hot, the pools are cold, the grills are lit...and so are the fireworks!

This (long) weekend, most of us will celebrate our Independence Day.

That is, unless, you're a Sprint Cup Series driver.  They'll be celebrating anything but independence.

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It's time, Dale.  The winless-streak has lasted over three years and spanned 109 races.

It's time you won a race, Junior.  You've come close several times.

At this point, whether you're a loyal member of Junior Nation or just a loyal member of this great nation, it's time to watch Dale Earnhardt Jr. make a trip to Victory Lane.

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Sometime in the 100-mile, three-hour drive to Sonoma last year, it occurred to me that there was an event going on at Infineon Raceway.

The drive from the South Bay where I lived in Campbell to Sonoma was a straight shot on the highway and I had envisioned something similar to a leisurely Saturday afternoon drive up I-89.

I was wrong.

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After this weekend's Loudon Classic, we might be short a checkered flag or two here at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

That's ok.  They shouldn't be hard to find.  I'm pretty sure I know where they ended up.

We'll start by checking the garage of Shane Narbonne and hauler of Shaun Buffington.

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Michigan Represented

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The big story: Boston won the Stanley Cup last night against Vancouver.

My job: to write a fantasy NASCAR column about a race in Michigan.

Connect the two?  Easy!

The only American-born player dressed for Boston was goaltender and Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) winner Tim Thomas.  Thomas hails from Michigan.

Boom!  There you go!

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Paul Revere's New Ride

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thanks to Sarah Palin, the story of Paul Revere has become a hot topic in the news.

Palin completely botched the history of the famous "British are coming" ride by claiming he warned the British that the colonials were ready to bear arms.

On Monday, we at NHMS continued to spin the story as we used a Brit to announce his own arrival.

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So...I usually try to write something insightful and/or funny about the upcoming race, but I'm struggling, because it's been a long day.

This weekend's race is the 5-Hour Energy 500 in Pocono, PA.  Since i can't come up with anything, here's a brief Bump Stops-esque kind of breakdown.

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Remember when you were a kid just trying to have fun?

You'd be out at recess and your teacher yelled at you for going down the slide two at a time or bumping some slow kid off the monkey bars.

Well, say goodbye to those silly teachers, because we're adults now and we don't have any supervision during recess!  Nor do we have mothers chastising us for getting dirty and traipsing mud all over the place.

As adults, recess is unsupervised!

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Sorry, Dorothy.  We're back in Kansas this weekend!

After several weeks on the East Coast, NASCAR will follow the yellow brick road to Kansas.  For the Midwest, hopefully a weekend at the speedway will provide some much needed normalcy for an area getting blasted by an ugly series of tornadoes.

While Dorothy's house gets swept up in the timeless classic, there's nothing theatrical about the travesty in the Midwest. Continue...

One race expert in the Twitter-verse commented that on Sunday that Hollywood couldn't have scripted the ending to this year's Indianapolis 500.

Buzzzzzzt!  Wrong!!!  Poor use of that metaphor.

Hollywood wouldn't have scripted it.

In almost every one of Hollywood's epic sports movies, the underdog or otherwise adverse protagonist pulls out a memorable win against all odds.

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The Coca-Cola 600 will circle around the Charlotte Motor Speedway, then it'll circle again and again and again.  Four-hundred laps, 600 miles, several hours, and probably a few blown engines (right).

The 600 is the longest race on the schedule, yet the 1.5-mile oval isn't nearly the longest (fastest) track, so this race will be a marathon and then some.

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It's common for us chest-pounding males to refer to sports we don't like or view in anyway soft (like basketball) as a "girls' sport."

Title IX was passed nearly 40 years ago in 1972 and has helped significantly boost the opportunity for females to compete at a high level of sport.  However, despite the four decades of equality*, women still have trouble shedding outdated stereotypes when it comes to athletics.

Cue up INDYCAR's Simona de Silvestro: she doesn't shed the stereotype.  She shreds it!

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In most sports, the All-Star event marks the midseason point of the year.  While the 2011 race season still seems early, consider the Chase as the equivalent of a playoff.

There are 26 races leading up to the Chase, and we've already seen the checkered flag wave on 11 of them, so we are just about midseason in NASCAR.

At the start of the season (before I joined NHMS), I previewed the season using a series of race flags to symbolize the drivers.  Here's a midseason visit to the flag stand.

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The 21st Vintage Celebration kicks off today and runs through Sunday.

The name says pretty much what you need to know about the event: it's a celebration of vintage cars.  Cars that help diagram the lineage of the motorsports.  From the early days of dirt tracks and open-wheel racing, you can see the progression and development into today's feats of science.

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Fantasy FedEx'd

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Think about it: you could "fed-ex" a package through UPS, but you would never "UPS" a package through FedEx, would you!?

As a dominant company, FedEx has struggled from time-to-time to maintain its copyright because their name has become so synonymous with shipping that it has turned into a verb.  In the eyes of United States Patent and Trademark Office, a company can lose its copyright if the brand becomes more than a name.

Shout, among others, fights the same struggle to maintain its brand.  Like "FedExing" a package has become a common reference for overnighting a package (no matter the company), people Shout out stains on their clothing no matter the cleanser.

And, there's a reason for this: FedEx (and Shout) are the leading brand among their competition.

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This is a real stretch for a title.

For those of you that read my original blog post when we first started the Granite Stripe blog, you know that New Hampshire is my original home.

I've also never even been to Kentucky, save the Cincinnati airport, which lies just across the border from Ohio.

However, when it comes to my interest in racing.  It all started with horse racing, and you can't discuss that without referencing the Kentucky Derby.

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When I first started giving you my fantasy NASCAR advice, I explained that I wasn't an expert, just a guy that followed the sport.  However, after last week's performance, I might have raised the bar higher than I can jump.

I'm one of those guys that tends to tell you, "I told you so," (because that's what New Englanders do!) and this past weekend was a big boost for my already enlarged ego.

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Go Granny, Go!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

At this point, you've probably heard the story.

If not, maybe you should move to Eugene, OR, Ottumwa, IA, or Salt Lake City, UT.  (Actually, scratch that, don't move to SLC...don't even think about it!)

All three of those media markets and dozens of others across the nation carried the story of Rachel Gilbert's 100th birthday in somewhere seemingly as distant and podunk to most Americans as any of those: Loudon, NH.

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According to the race's name, Crown Royal will present the "Crown Royal presents the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400" this weekend in Richmond, VA.

Now, the first question most people probably ask is: "Who the heck are Matthew and Daniel Hansen?"

The second is: "Am I not enough of a NASCAR buff to recognize those names and am I going to look like a dope if I voice my first question?"

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Before we get into the article, let's just take a minute to enjoy the photo to the right.

In this photo, you see Joey Logano celebrating the Coors Light "21 Means 21" pole in the Nationwide Series last weekend.

Coincidentally, Logano's car is not 21, it's just short at number 20.  And, also, coincidentally, his car number matches his current age: 20.

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"Are you watching auto racing?"

It's a question I've had to deal with since I first became a racing fan in 2009. (The answer is a 'well, of course-toned,' "yeah!")

"Wow! A bunch of cars turning left!"

A typical retort from the uneducated mathlete.  (Perhaps you should try calculating the centripetal force heading into turn 2 maybe that would make you more appreciative.)

"It doesn't even qualify as a sport."

Also, another ignorant comment from someone that hasn't watched a lap in their life.

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Of course, right!?

I had to make some stereotypical reference to that stereotype-fulfilling movie!

Although, while some NASCAR purists might have felt it made a mockery of the sport, it did a lot to bring auto racing into the living rooms of Americans.  Plus, it was Carl Edwards that, two years ago in this race, suffered a horrific crash on the last lap and legged it out on foot to the finish line, à la Ricky Bobby and Jean Girard.

However, like in the movie when Bobby and Girard were disqualified for leaving their cars and Cal Naughton Jr. was awarded the race, if you're prepping this weekend's fantasy team, you're probably more concerned with who will cross the finish line first...by vehicle!

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Granite State of Mind

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I'm sure you've heard the entire laundry list of complaints against New Hampshire:

- Nothing happens here.

- Nobody lives here.

- It's too cold.

- It's too snowy.

...That list goes on...

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