Our experts weigh in on four of the biggest questions in NASCAR this week:
Turn 1: Did Josh Wise winning the Sprint Fan Vote for the All-Star Race bring an end to the fan vote?
Ed Hinton, ESPN.com: Didn't end it but is sure to change it. You can't have fans voting a gazillion times each. This is the all-time instance of gaming a system. Some claimed to vote thousands of times for Wise. I feel for NASCAR on this one, because the high-speed world of the Internet simply blew the doors off the NASCAR system. Looks like there are some good jobs to be had for computer programmers in a quest to prevent avalanche technology and bring it down to one fan, one vote. Most of all, I feel for Danica Patrick, who had a heckuva lot more business in that race than Wise -- nice a guy as he may be -- did.
Brant James, ESPN.com: In its current form. All of NASCAR's dark site hackers must be hastily rewriting code to prevent those Reddit rapscallions and their like from rigging the system next spring. Voting Wise into the All-Star Race was akin to conduct detrimental to stock car racing, at least its marketing wing. Is that a fineable offense? If so, is it payable in Dogecoin?
Ryan McGee, ESPN The Magazine: I hope not. Kudos to the Reddit/Dogecoin crowd for mobilizing and making it happen. If we're going to penalize drivers and teams for getting the ballot box stuffed, then we need to go back and take away most of Bill Elliott's Most Popular Driver awards, because that was always a carefully campaigned and executed plan by his fan club. If someone wants to keep Wise, or anyone else, out of the All-Star Race, then vote for your driver. It's pretty simple.
John Oreovicz, ESPN.com: I doubt it. But I definitely see NASCAR making an adjustment to the rules governing the fan vote to discourage or prevent something like this from happening again. The success of the organized effort that voted Wise in was certainly a demonstration of the power of the Internet and social media, and there may have been a hint of anti-Danica backlash involved too. Her remarks to Bob Pockrass in the immediate aftermath sounded like sour grapes, which added another entertaining twist to the whole affair.
Marty Smith, ESPN Insider: No. Because if Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn't otherwise qualified for the race, NASCAR needs him qualified. Fan vote = Dale Jr. qualified.
Turn 2: The newest members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame will be chosen Wednesday. Who do you believe is the single most deserving person for induction?
Hinton: Anne B. France. I'll catch the usual "Why a bookkeeper in the Hall of Fame?" grief. But the fact is if it weren't for that little lady and her accounting, her husband, Big Bill France, never would have gotten his dreams airborne in the first place. Her granddaughter, Lesa France Kennedy, once told me "Annie B." kept two sets of books -- the real ones and the ones she showed to Big Bill. If he had spent all he wanted to, without her controls, you'd have never heard of NASCAR.
James: Rick Hendrick. He's won 14 championships as an owner in NASCAR's top three series and unleashed two of the greatest ever on Sprint Cup in four-time titlist Jeff Gordon and six-time and defending champion Jimmie Johnson. His organization is the gold standard of modern NASCAR, with its quality and success crucial to teams far beyond his campus. Just write the inscription in pencil. His drivers aren't done yet.
McGee: I think Joe Weatherly is one of the most underappreciated racers in NASCAR history. He won a pair of Modified titles and back-to-back Grand National (Cup) titles in 1962 and '63. He was the favorite to win it in 1964, but his death at Riverside kicked off the bloody year that claimed his running buddy Fireball Roberts and then Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald at Indy. Weatherly was also wildly popular. In a perfect world, he and his party pal Curtis Turner would both get in Wednesday.
Oreovicz: Bill Elliott. His iconic Coors/Melling Ford Thunderbirds will probably always be known as the fastest cars in NASCAR history, as well as the last generation of cars to bear a moderate resemblance to "stock" cars. Elliott also has an extraordinary connection with race fans, as shown by the 16 times he was voted NASCAR's Most Popular Driver, and his legacy remains relevant as his son Chase potentially develops into the sport's next superstar.
Smith: Rick Hendrick. Unparalleled résumé and commitment to people. Rewrote the definition of NASCAR ownership. Invented the multicar team. No matter what changes come along, Hendrick Motorsports is always on the leading edge and competitive. Hendrick won championships at the highest level with Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte and Jimmie Johnson. Won Daytona 500s with Gordon, Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Darrell Waltrip and Geoff Bodine. Most of those men will be Hall of Famers. So will crew chiefs Ray Evernham and Chad Knaus. Hendrick's resilience is amazing. He lost his son, brother, nieces and best friends in a plane crash 10 years ago. He stayed committed because there were hundreds of people that counted on him and his racing organization to put food on the table. I told him last month at Charlotte Motor Speedway: The truest testament to him is that no one ever leaves his company. In today's NASCAR, loyalty is the truest and rarest of endorsements.
Turn 3: With his Nationwide Series victory Sunday, has Sam Hornish Jr. landed himself a Cup ride or a top Nationwide ride for 2015?
Hinton: Sadly, no. Just look what cost him his rides in the past: lack of sponsorship. Nothing has changed about that. All he really did Sunday was confirm that the JGR No. 54 Toyota is a rocket ship, whether Kyle Busch is in it or not. It does show that Hornish, given top-notch equipment, can win. But that great equipment costs a lot of money, and that requires sponsorship. So Sunday was a feel-good day for a nice guy, but that's about it.
James: Lack of sponsorship cost him his last ride at Team Penske even after finishing second in the Nationwide Series last year. Availability of sponsorship will determine where he lands next, and he knows it. He is expected to race well in a No. 54 Toyota that leads in Nationwide owner points. But he's fulfilling expectations, and that is crucial in persuading a team and a sponsor to put him back in a full-time ride.
McGee: I think top Nationwide is reachable. Cup is an awfully tall order at this point. He will be 35 this summer, and his timing is not good trying to get back into the Cup Series when the pipeline of young talent is so packed. I'm just not sure where he'd go.
Oreovicz: It's way too early for that. But in two Nationwide appearances to date for Joe Gibbs Racing, Hornish verified that the No. 54 car is a real fast hot rod even without Kyle Busch behind the wheel and proved that he has the talent to win stock car races. It's unfortunate that Hornish's association with Team Penske ended the way it did, but as many drivers, such as Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick, can attest, a change of scenery can provide a career boost. If he keeps performing for Gibbs like he has at Talladega and Iowa, I'll be surprised if Hornish isn't in some kind of a full-time ride next year.
Smith: It will be tough for Hornish to get an elite ride full time. It's a very difficult business, and he's had chances in really good equipment before. Sponsorship is everything. If he can secure corporate alignment, he'll get a chance. I'm thrilled for him that he won Iowa. I imagine there was great solace in that for him.
Turn 4: Does Kurt Busch finish every lap of "the double"? Overall, how do you think he will perform in each race?
Hinton: If Monday's crash in practice at Indy was an indication, he will be able to leave Indy in plenty of time to get to Charlotte. He got comfortable going with the flow after a few laps, and it bit him. Let's say he learns from Monday's mistake. Still, 200 laps at Indy is an awful long way to go, on edge every second. Then 600 miles on Busch's usual ragged edge is asking a lot too. He might complete one or the other, but not both.
James: Every lap? Unlikely. His practice crash Monday, after a respectable 12th-place qualifying effort, displayed just how volatile and difficult a proposition it is to wrest an Indy car around the flat, fickle expanse of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A series rookie can't be expected to finish in his first start in its most demanding race. It would be amusing, though, if Busch completes Indy, gets a green/white/checker for bonus laps at Charlotte and steals the double mileage record from boss Tony Stewart. As for the 600, a top-15 finish would be admirable at the end of an arduous day.
McGee: If he were to finish every lap, he should have a helicopter carry him to the top of the big TV screen on the Charlotte backstretch and do a happy dance. I think he falls off the pace at Indy, but not because of his ability. I think it will be caused by pit road issues, a common ailment among one-off teams in the 500. So let's say he finishes one lap down in both races.
Oreovicz: Had this question landed in my inbox a couple hours before Busch clouted the Turn 2 wall at Indianapolis rather than a couple hours after, my answer might have been different. But post-crash, I have to say I doubt it. The whole Indy car thing was looking a little too easy for Busch until he learned the hard way just how much of a knife-edge the open-wheel cars run on at superspeedways. As he said, better to crash at an opportune time, but it will be interesting to see how he responds when he gets back in the car Friday. I'll put the over/under on his combined finish in the two races at 30.
Smith: That is a very difficult proposition. Not impossible but not likely. Between two race cars and 1,100 miles, there are a million things that can go wrong. Logistics, while precise on paper, can be fickle in real time. Busch has stated this week how tired he is, and he suffered the practice crash Monday. I'm not sure what the residual impact of that will be, how that will play on his mind. It might not at all. But it might. I have a feeling he'll do well. He's committed and determined. He got himself in the best shape of his life. And he's Kurt Busch. The man can drive.