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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

10 Points to Ponder… After the 2007 Brickyard 400

1. Stewart Storylines – As expected, Tony Stewart has hit his midsummer stride, winning two straight Cup races and his second Brickyard 400. Stewart-related questions: Will Tony be punished for saying “bullsh*t” in his post-race interview? Just what bullsh*t was he referring to that he thinks his fans have to put up with? Will he continue the trend of six of the past nine Brickyard winners taking the title? And how much will an autographed sweat-soaked Stewart towel go for at auction to benefit his charity foundation?

2. Unhappy HarvickKevin Harvick was miffed when Stewart bumped him passing for the lead in the closing laps. Harvick claimed the post-race donut he gave Stewart was congratulatory, not retaliatory. Still, Harvick said this: “He’s always the first one to whine about people not giving him enough room. I gave him plenty of room all day to race, and he winds up knocking the left-front fender off, and we wound up finishing seventh. It is what it is. Just race them how they race you.” The two drivers are close friends off the track, but will Harvick stand by his veiled threat to move Tony the next time they are battling for a win?

3. No. 48 FallingJimmie Johnson made a quick exit from his burning racecar Sunday, suffering singed hairs on his face after cutting a tire and slamming the wall on lap 62. Johnson finished 39th and fell two more spots in the points to ninth, having been as high as second earlier this season. Although he won four of the year’s first 10 races, Johnson has just one top-five finish in the past nine events to go along with six finishes of 15th or worse. Are NASCAR’s new, stricter rules regarding the comportment of suspended crew chiefs taking a toll on the No. 48 team?

4. The Angry Minute – Did you see the new feature on the SPEED Report called “The Angry Minute,” featuring a mock-serious debate between NASCAR crew chief Bootie Barker and open wheel analyst Robin Miller? It was very funny! Miller complained that NASCAR’s races should be longer, since he starts watching them at breakfast, and they end by supper instead of a few hours later. Bootie countered that he would like to be an open-wheel crew chief, since he’d only be at the track for a few hours a week. This was just one of several issues they traded barbs on. Make sure to catch it next time – you’ll laugh out loud!

5. Kyle’s Milestone – It was a little bit lost in the typical Brickyard overhype, but Sunday marked Kyle Petty‘s 800th start in a Cup race. His first start came back in the 1979 Talladega 500, where he finished ninth; in case you’re wondering, dad Richard Petty finished fourth while Darrell Waltrip won the race. Kyle wasn’t as strong this Sunday; he finished 32nd after getting caught up in a multi-car wreck and remains 36th in points. but that didn’t taint a historic day for the Pettys. The milestone puts Kyle sixth on the all-time starts list, behind his dad (1,184), Ricky Rudd (895), Dave Marcis (883), Terry Labonte (849) and D.W. (809).

6. Comical Commercials – I got a chuckle out of the new “Stop Team Tylenol” ad, in which several drivers try to figure out what makes the Team Tylenol racecars go so fast. Elliott Sadler holds up a picture of a running jackrabbit and says he thinks the secret is “Rabbit Release,” but he is quickly told that the correct Tylenol phrase is “Rapid Release.” Meanwhile, Michael Waltrip‘s new NAPA TV ad has him poking fun at his own misery, reading mail from fans who offer helpful advice like, “Turn 3 is not a school zone.”

7. Battle at the Bottom – Three drivers at or near the 12th-place Chase cutoff struggled at Indy: Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 34th, Ryan Newman 42nd, and Jamie McMurray 33rd. Two others in the fray had better outcomes – Kurt Busch, who came in 11th and Greg Biffle, who finished 15th. Junior is currently the final driver above the cutoff, while Busch and Newman swapped spots for 13th and 14th, respectively. Of note: one race ago, the gap between 12th and 16th was 185 points. Now, it is just 128 points.

8. Evaluating ESPN – Would love to hear what you guys thought of ESPN’s broadcast. I am hearing mixed reviews so far – a lot of fans felt that the guys in the booth talked too much and that the cameras did not always show the most important action. Your thoughts?

9. Toyota on Top – It’s worth a mention that Toyota notched its first-ever Busch Series victory on Saturday at ORP, with Jason Leffler behind the wheel beating out Biffle on 50-lap older tires. Toyota also scored a top 10 at the Brickyard Sunday thanks to Dave Blaney, who finished ninth.

10. TMI – Lastly, a few things under the heading of Too Much Information: Old Spice is not only auctioning off the used Stewart towel, but is also running a tongue-in-cheek commercial about exploring a new media opportunity – posting advertisements on “Stewart’s armpits.” Meanwhile, we learned in the pre-race show that Harvick’s favorite karaoke song is Madonna’s “Material Girl.” By the way, whatever happened to Harvick’s “Wax Smoke” campaign?

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