Before Michael Mauldin became a music mogul, he was a bona fide gearhead.

Tony Sanford leaned across the red tape that briefly roped off Broad Street on Friday evening, joyfully screaming at former NASCAR driver Kyle Petty, "I've been a fan of yours all my life!"

FLORENCE, S.C. — It was about a year ago that Mark Martin set off on a NASCAR ride like few others in his stellar career: five Sprint Cup race victories, a runner-up finish to champ Jimmie Johnson in the Chase for the championship and, at 51 years old, a renewed passion for his life’s work.

HAMPTON, Ga. -- The drivers keep saying how much the racing has improved in the opening month of the NASCAR season, yet there's all sorts of evidence that defies their optimism.

  • March 6th, 2010  |
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HAMPTON, Ga. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. is on the pole for the first time in nearly two years. He's hoping it will lead to Victory Lane.

NASCAR wants you to believe the Sprint Cup title isn’t a slam dunk for Jimmie Johnson as the series hits Homestead for the season finale. Mathematically, of course, that’s true. He could, as he did at Texas, get caught up in somebody else’s trouble and finish 40th or so.

NASCAR faces an interesting situation with its Nationwide Series. Does it want the series to be the training ground for future Sprint Cup drivers, or do officials want the series to be more popular with fans and make more money?

Well, the Danica Patrick experiment is about to come to fruition with word she is close to completing a Nationwide Series deal with JR Motorsports.

Talladega and Halloween. It’s such a perfect match that it makes you wonder why the two haven’t been paired before now.

NASCAR is different from every other professional sport in that it's both an individual and a team sport. A great driver won't be very good with a mediocre team, and vice versa.

You can tell it’s a slow news time in NASCAR when it makes headlines that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is frustrated. I mean, really, what’s he supposed to be late in a winless season as his three Hendrick Motorsports teammates duke it out for a title?

OK, so the Chase is over, right? I mean, Jimmie Johnson already is past his worst Chase tracks, won at California and now has slam dunks ahead of him at Charlotte and at Martinsville.

Fans may not like it, but expect this Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship to be decided by pit strategy more than anything else. At least that is the opinion of Tony Stewart, who won last week after he took two tires to gain track position late when several other contenders took four.

It may be too late to recover much of the media coverage lost in the last two years, but NASCAR made a wise move this week by working with its many television partners to put a little consistency in race start times.

Are Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin cheating their way to the top of the Sprint Cup standings?

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