The Frontstretch: Where There's SMOKE, There's a Tony Win: Making the Grade Indianapolis by Dennis Michelsen -- Monday August 8, 2005

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Pace Laps

OK, so I guess teams keep using the wrong camber because we had even more tire issues at a track that is too fast to not take safety more seriously. Sure glad I didn’t buy Goodyears for my car!

Since teams always seem to have trouble with the tire pressure building up, why doesn’t NASCAR allow bleeder valves to keep it from happening? Perhaps, since Goodyear knows teams start down on tire pressure, why can’t we build a tire with a better side wall? This is a safety issue, but at the rate NASCAR is responding to the problem, it seems nothing is going to be done about it until someone gets hurt! We can send a man to the moon but…we can’t fix this?

Race Grade: A-

Now THAT was a good race! Finally, we had a race at Indy that featured actual passing! Add to the drama a great duel between Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart, and you have yourself a memorable race indeed.

F for the Budweiser Team

At least Pete Rondeau gets off the hook after this one. There is no one to blame but the entire organization, including the driver, for not being able to race on flat tracks!

D for Bobby Labonte’s Luck

So many times this year, Bobby has not been competitive. But this week, he finally finds himself racing up front until WHAM, a tire blows and he hits the wall hard. If it wasn’t for bad luck, this team would have no luck at all!

C for Jeff Gordon

Once again, Jeff tried to stuff his car into a narrow spot and came out on the losing end. This week he salvaged a "C" grade for being lucky enough to get a timely caution which gave him better tires at the end. His 8th place finish only earns an average grade because he was passing cars on old tires…not doing anything spectacular to get there!

B for Kasey Kahne

Kasey only made one mistake all race, and it cost him the win. This guy is showing that with just a little more experience, he will be primed for a run at more than one championship in his career!

A for Tony Stewart

What could possibly be better than to win on the historic track closest to your hometown? I can only imagine the amazing feelings Tony felt hearing over 200,000 fans cheering, "Tony, Tony, Tony" after the race. Smoke is showing that he is the man to beat in 2005!

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