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Becca’s Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2006 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte

Each week, Frontstretch Staff Writer Becca Gladden looks at the prior weekend’s Nextel Cup race from a reporter’s point of view, covering the “Who, What, When, Where, Why and How” of the race, the drivers, the TV coverage… even the commercials. Check back every Wednesday for Becca’s fun and thought-provoking commentary.

Who… gets my shout-out of the race?

None other than Joe Nemechek, whose ninth-place finish on Saturday was his first top 10 all year and his best finish since last year’s Charlotte race. Here’s to hoping that more good things are coming for Nemechek next year as he teams up Mark Martin and moves to a new ride in the No. 13 car with Ginn Motorsports.

What… did the pastor mean with his “role model” prayer?

Far be it from me to criticize what anyone says in the pre-race invocation, but it did strike me as curious when this week’s prayer included the words, “We ask the drivers to be models of excellence and virtue.” I guess this harkens back to the old Charles Barkley “I’m not a role model” debate – but do race fans really expect (and pray) that NASCAR drivers will be “models of virtue?”

When… was the last time Jeff Gordon started a race from 41st position or worse?

Never. At least, as far as Cup racing goes. Jeff Gordon‘s 41st-place starting spot was the worst of his Cup career. Adding insult to injury, Gordon lost an engine with 33 laps remaining in the race, finishing 24th and falling three spots in the standings to 10th – 216 points behind the leader. “It’s just not meant to be for us this year,” Gordon said. I think he’s right.

Where… will the next night race be in the Chase?

Nowhere, at least not this season. Lowe’s has the only night race of the 10 Chase races, despite overwhelming support by both drivers and fans for more night racing. Perhaps a few more night races might perk up sagging TV ratings? It didn’t seem to help much Saturday, with ratings down 14.6% compared to this time last year.

Why… was the pre-race show just 18 minutes long?

The race wasn’t moved up because of rain, but there was no explanation given for the shortened trackside festivities. The main reason I watch the pre-race is for the driver interviews, but there were only two very short ones Saturday with Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Burton. However, the network did manage to find time for football scores and Wally’s World.

How… could Brian Vickers’s Talladega win be named the Bank of America “Higher Standards Moment?”

Whether you think Brian Vickers‘s infamous move last week – the one where he took out the two race frontrunners, including his own teammate – was a mistake, a misjudgment or something more devious, it really wasn’t a “higher standards moment” – was it? And ironically, while showcasing the win on the B of A spot, they played a quote with Vickers saying, “That’s not how I wanted to win it.”

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