The Very Best of NASCAR on the Web
One of the great things about the internet is the sheer availability of information. Whether you want to know how a given driver did in the series standings in 1991 or get opinions on the latest free agent signing, the information NASCAR fans want and need is at their fingertips. The only problem is the very volume of information also can make it difficult to find what you need right away. NASCAR is the most popular auto racing series in the United States and thousands of sites (including this one) add their own voices into the discussion. Listed below is what Another Left Turn considers to be the very best of NASCAR on the web.
Jayski's Silly Season Site
Since many of you reading this column likely came here from Jayski, the site is likely no surprise to you. For those who didn't, Jayski is simply the best when it comes to an independent racing website. The site is well organized, separating the fact from the opinion. The news updates are concise and regularly updated. The articles/links section provides a daily update of 20 or more news and opinion articles regarding all things NASCAR. There are also dozens of nuggets elsewhere on the site including race records, TV ratings histories, and a paint scheme archive dating back over a decade. Finally, the site links to dozens of different NASCAR charitable efforts- something you won't find anywhere else. Jayski should be your starting place for all things NASCAR; if you can't find it or link to it from there, it's probably not worth knowing.
For NASCAR stat geeks, Racing Reference is the Holy Writ when it comes to prior NASCAR results. You can search by driver, owner, track, season, crew chief, and virtually any other aspect. The tables are well formatted and easily copied for further sorting in Excel. A particularly useful function is the driver performance by track, which can be limited to the last ten (or fewer) races. The feature provides a great counter-weight to announcers talking about how Driver X has four wins at a track... when those four wins came over a decade ago and he's finished towards the rear lately. The site isn't graphic heavy but the information here is a gold mine.
Frontstretch is another content-heavy site with regular updates and a heavy dose of NASCAR opinion. They've also had a number of drivers pen columns for the site that provide a unique insight into the world of auto racing. Dozens of columnists call the site home and the sheer volume of voices gives a fantastic perspective into what NASCAR fans are thinking. The only drawback is that a good portion of the content is dated (for example, the twitter feed on the front page is dated 2012) but with multiple new articles a day, the concern is a minor one.
Speedway Media looks and feels like a newspaper. The site owner(s) put some time into the visual appearance and layout and it shows. The feel matches the content as the site is light on opinion and heavy on news. This is the place to go for in-depth items such as press conference transcripts, interviews, and major news updates. And unlike many other sites, SM provides heavy coverage for NASCAR's support series in addition to the Sprint Cup news. A terrific site for those who prefer their news to be free of opinion and bias, allowing the reader to form their own opinions.
Major Sports Sites
Essentially a one man show (Bob Pockrass), the Sporting News NASCAR site still is a cut above many other NASCAR news sites. Pockrass is a veteran motorsports reporter and has the kind of garage access needed to break stories. Yet he doesn't have a history of breaking those stories prematurely; Pockrass is a more traditional reporter in the sense that he seems to be more concerned with getting the story right than getting it first. This is a one man band worth paying attention to.
While USA Today lacks the mainstream news reputation some larger organizations have, their NASCAR news and opinion is outstanding. Jeff Gluck and Nate Ryan provide a terrific pair of bookends providing NASCAR news that's updated regularly. They've also been unafraid to pen opinion-based columns as well and have done so in high quality and significant volume. The site is also visually appealing thanks in part to the backing of USA Today; a large number of sharp pictures accompany the solid written content. The twitter feeds of Gluck and Ryan at the bottom of the page are a nice finishing touch.
Yahoo! Sports is generally considered to be the best independent overall sports reporting site. As they have no television network they have no perceived conflict of interest that can burden the coverage provided by the broadcast partners. They have a wide variety of reporters on staff and have expanded their investigative reporting arm over the past two years. Their in-race live chat is also the best on the web with entertaining and informative comments from both authors and readers. Be warned, however; you will need a bit to get used to the lingo. Vader, Moobs and Jetski are all names you'll hear while Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski are not.
Yes, it's Wikipedia. Yes, the fact that the pages can be edited means that the information is not always on point. But when searching by driver or by team, Wikipedia provides a great base of knowledge. You can get a good feel for a driver's career plus often learn a few interesting things about them personally. It's not particularly good as a statistical resource but it can provide a broad outline of drivers and teams. This is especially true for fans who may not have been around to see the “glory days” many old time fans pine for on a regular basis.
The Television Partners
ESPN's NASCAR page is a great landing spot to get an early read on the biggest stories in NASCAR. Its reporters are at the track and have the resources of America's largest sports network behind them. The only issue here is that sometimes articles go on the NASCAR page and sometimes they land on the Motor Sports page, meaning the primary NASCAR site appears dated at times. Overall, however, their reporters are excellent.
Fox Sports in general has lagged behind some of its competitors in terms of online coverage. That's changed over the last year or so, including NASCAR. It's nice to hear from some of the voices on the network broadcast in a more informal atmosphere; both Larry Mac and DW regularly contribute material for the site. Their “Shake and Bake” NASCAR blog site is a poor man's Grantland but does have a few entertaining nuggets from time to time.
More on ESPN from Amazon
One notable omission from the list below is NASCAR's own website. The sanctioning body bought its online right back from Turner a year ago and the results are less than impressive. The site used to offer some mildly critical opinion as a part of its coverage, plus the ability to comment on articles. That criticism is virtually extinct and the comments section went down due to “technical difficulties” early this year. As 2013 draws near its close, those difficulties remain. Clearly, NASCAR got tired of the heavy criticism from readers and decided to ax the ability to offer an opinion. While understandable, the racing series really ought to be better than that.