NASCAR: Keeping Score of Who, What, When and How

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent IJuly 31, 2010

Somewhere deep within the belly of the beast are secrets held close to the vest by the NASCAR powers that be.

They have filed away remarks made by Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman that invoked their wrath and large penalties for the drivers.

Hamlin and Newman made remarks disparaging to the sport and NASCAR used the penalties to remind other drivers that certain negative remarks will not be tolerated.

NASCAR is attempting to rebuild the sport and drivers must realize that if not for the sanctioning body, where would they be?

Enough about who said what.

Somewhere else within the confines of NASCAR is the schedule for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series to be announced for 2011.

For those of you keeping score, three tracks will lose race dates and three tracks will gain new ones.

Now this is not official, but rather a widely held opinion of what is to come.

Bruton Smith will get a NASCAR Sprint Cup date finally at Kentucky Speedway.

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Another of his tracks, Las Vegas Motor Speedway will get an additional event.

It is rumored that it may be the finale for the season to tie in to the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards banquet and festivities now held annually in Las Vegas.

The France family's International Speedway Corporation will add an event at Kansas Speedway.  This will bring in additional revenue from race fans and those who enjoy the casino that is part of the complex.

The tracks expected to lose one event will be New Hampshire and Atlanta, both owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc. and Auto Club Speedway owned by International Speedway Corporation.

The track at Homestead, owned by ISP will become just a regular racing venue on the schedule as opposed to being the track where the NASCAR Sprint Cup champion is proclaimed.

Dover International Speedway, owned by Dover Motorsports Inc. is independent, not under control of Smith or the France family.

Dover Motorsports Inc. is not without financial stress.  They just announced that Gateway International outside St. Louis would no longer play host to NASCAR Nationwide races and would probably be sold.

DMI ceased operation of Memphis Motorsports park and is attempting to sell it. They still own Nashville Speedway and we can only hope they can maintain operation of that track, the site of a Nationwide race.

Dover International Speedway known as the "Monster Mile" is the sight of exciting NASCAR racing and also a casino. 

With the debt burden of the DMI, one has to wonder if eventually it will come under the control of the NASCAR titans Smith or France.

The Mattioli family continues to remain independent of SMI or ISC with it's ownership of Pocono Raceway and South Boston Speedway.

Now we have to wonder what is going to happen to the Cup drivers attempting to make the Chase.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. falls in and out of the top 12 and is now ranked 14th, 93 points out of 12th place. 

Pocono doesn't look promising for the driver of the Amp Energy/National Guard No. 88, so a bad finish may just drop him right out of contention for the Chase especially with Watkins Glen coming next.

Mark Martin, driver of the GoDaddy.com car languishes 13th in the points standings. He is not having the season he had in 2009, but he has a better chance than Earnhardt Jr. of making the Chase.

Clint Bowyer is at the bottom of the top 12 in standings. RCR drivers have been pretty strong this season, but it may be Bowyer that is the one to not make the Chase should Martin or someone else make a surprise move to the upside in points.

Kevin Harvick leads the Sprint Cup points and has for quite some time. Obviously, he will make the Chase, but Hamlin and Johnson have more bonus points from wins putting them ahead of him when the points reset.

We wonder if anyone will be able to stop Jimmie Johnson from getting a fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup title. Jeff Gordon is trying to get the elusive fifth championship as well and he may be ready for a winning streak starting at Pocono.

Of course we still wonder how Rick Hendrick will utilize his five drivers that he has under contract when he is only allowed four teams under the HMS banner.

We wonder who will be left at Richard Petty Motorsports except for possibly his new driver Marcos Ambrose.

Kasey Kahne, considered the lead driver at RPM is off to Hendrickland and Elliott Sadler claims he wants to leave RPM. 

AJ Allmendinger doesn't seem all that thrilled there and with his contract up this year there is every chance he will move out of the RPM house.

Paul Menard would be the only driver left. His season began strong, but has fallen off for whatever reason. He has financial backing from his father and may be on the hunt for a ride elsewhere with his contract expiring this year as well.

So we have lots of who is going where, what is going to happen with the Chase, when will the new Sprint Cup schedule be announced and what will it be and who will be the next hot topic of silly season.

One of the biggest questions surround the drama of what Rick Hendrick will announce with Kasey Kahne.

Stay tuned, there is still lots of time for many more questions, making it difficult to keep score.

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