FIVE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS OF 2009

No wins or movies for these two in 2009 Before the start of every season, writers and broadcasters predict who will soar and who will flop. Those of us brave enough to make such statements look like geniuses with some calls and first-time race watchers with others. Looking back at the start of 2009, I saw stronger campaigns ahead for this group. 1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Prior to Earnhardt’s 2009 season of unrelenting misery and inexplicable failure, he was the strongest Hendrick Mot ...

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TOP STORY NO. 12: NASCAR HALL OF FAME

Every sport has its Mount Rushmore. Every sport has a place to show off its greatest, except NASCAR. That reality is changing by the day, and then some, through the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which announced its first class in October. What happened?NASCAR unveiled its first Hall of Fame Class. Only five men would make the first cut; so, we knew the list would be legendary. Still, it strikes a little bit of awe to type Dale Earnhardt, Bill France, Bill France Jr., Junior Johnson and Richard Petty i ...

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TOP STORY NO. 13: DAVID POOLE’S DEATH

Baseball has Peter Gammons. Football has Peter King. NASCAR had David Poole, until April 28, 2009.  WHAT HAPPENED?A heart attack took the life of Poole, who spent 13 years covering the sport for the Charlotte Observer. Poole also hosted a radio show on Sirius/XM. While there are dozens of writers who pull double duty, few if any earn comments like this one from an athlete as accomplished as Jimmie Johnson. Per Lars Anderson at SI.com:"David was the one writer who I felt I had to actual ...

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TOP STORY NO. 15: AS THE DANICA TURNS

 (Editor's note: This is the first in a 15-part look back at the 2009 Sprint Cup season.) What better way to moisten your pallet for the 2010 season than by looking back at 2009? (Yes, we're already looking forward to the 2010 season. We have been since July.) Let’s begin with the 15th-biggest story of the 2009 racing season, which happened to have nothing to do with actual racing. WHAT HAPPENED?Danica Patrick flirted. A lot. With men. About racing. What were you thinking, hor ...

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THREE DNFS DOOMED HAMLIN’S CHASE

When Denny Hamlin entered the 2009 Chase for the Cup, he did so with confidence. He won the fall Richmond race, claimed the fourth slot in the Chase and offered this warning to his competition: “They better watch us. This team is dangerous.”Hamlin backed it up early with a runner-up in Loudon. Then the Joe Gibbs Racing driver went to Dover, one of his worst tracks. A 22nd-place finish at the Monster Mile dropped him to sixth. Hamlin responded with a top-5 in Kansas. Then three poor f ...

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NASCAR’s Power Players

Despite the horrible economy and the attendant difficulties confronting the sports marketplace, NASCAR remains one of the most potent forces in the sports world. With 36 official race weekends and tens of millions of devoted fans, NASCAR generates billions of dollars in revenue for its stakeholders -- the sanctioning body itself, the dozens of full-time teams, and tracks, among others. Having signed an eight-year, $4.5 billion TV contract in 2005, NASCAR is consistently the ...

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So, About Those TV Numbers …

Late Tuesday night, updated ratings information pertaining to the Auto Club 500 were released. It turns out, the final ratings were not nearly as bad as first reports indicated; in fact, though they were down, they declined by approximately three percent, not the 13 percent initially reported and I latched on to. Mea culpa.Statistics, of course, can  be made to say many different things and, used judiciously, they can buttress almost any viewpoint; for example, while my initial ...

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Tuesday Morning Breakfast of Champions: Links

 Unfortunately, the above photo wasn't taken Sunday at California -- if it had been, it would be an indication that there was actually some on-track action. Nevertheless, the world of NASCAR must go on, as the following stories prove.  * ESPN.com's David Newton takes a closer look at Dale Earnhardt Jr's already difficult start.* Still another observer disagrees with Jeff Gordon and suggests that the Auto Club 500 was ... boring -- with suggestions for how to fix things ...

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