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Amy Henderson

Amy Henderson
Amy is a 15-year veteran writer and a five-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. Amy pens The Big 6 (Mondays) Frontstretch 5 (Wednesdays) and Holding A Pretty Wheel (monthly - Fridays). A New Hampshire native living in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits extend everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports.

One For the Ages: Looking Back At Darlington’s Most Epic Battle

Were you watching on that March Sunday as racing history was made? Were you on the edge of your seat? Did you think one or both of the drivers wouldn't make it to the finish as neither one backed down an inch? Who were you rooting for to pull out the win: the brash youngster who already had the reputation of being hotheaded and aggressive but could drive a car almost beyond the ragged edge, or the beleaguered veteran who never quite seemed to live up to his potential? Were you holding your breath as they made the final lap?

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The Big Six: Questions Answered After The Aaron’s 499

_Looking for the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How behind Sunday's race? Amy Henderson has you covered with each week with the answers to six race day questions, covering all five W’s and even the H…the Big Six_ *Who…gets my shoutout of the race?* Plate racing may be a crapshoot, but sometimes it still comes up sevens. For NASCAR's *small teams,* Talladega is circled in red ink because its one of the few tracks where they're on equal ground. These teams have to do more with less every single week, and they all put in the same amount of work as the biggest of the big teams—with less money and fewer people to do it with.

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Underdogs for NL

Never Fear, the Underdogs are Here: Richmond I Edition by Amy Henderson Editor’s Note: This year, we’re going to switch things up a little bit. Instead of just focusing upon one underdog (or underreported) car in the Secret Star section, we will point out three smaller teams that put up …

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Want A Real Rivalry? It’ll Come From Respect

After a pair of incidents that ended with torn-up race cars and hurt feelings (not to mention Denny Hamlin's hurt back) it seems as though the Hamlin-Joey Logano spat is the latest in a line of mini-rivalries to crop up when two drivers just can't seem to stay away from each other on the racetrack. Before that, there was Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer, culminating in an ugly ending at Phoenix. It seems as though every time two drivers are angry with each other after a race, people want to make the incident into a brewing, long-term rivalry for the ages. The only problem is… they aren't. NASCAR needs a rivalry, and it's certainly easy to see two drivers feuding and to cultivate that into something it's simply never going to be.

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The Big Six: Questions Answered After Sprint Cup’s Food City 500

_Looking for the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How behind Sunday's race? Amy Henderson has you covered with each week with the answers to six race day questions, covering all five W’s and even the H… the Big Six._ *Who… gets my shoutout of the race?* This is one of those weeks where this answer is a tough call. With four single-car teams inside the top 20, a great run by a midpack organization, and a solid day for a rookie, there were truly several drivers all worthy of a second look. But perhaps one of the hardest things to do in racing is to step into a race car on a limited basis and get the same finishes as a regular. That's exactly what *Brian Vickers* did — again — on Sunday, finishing eighth in the No. 55 and that earns him the nod.

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A Glimmer Of Hope For Small Teams, Sponsors

Sponsorship woes: it seems like they’re everywhere in NASCAR these days, and the reality is that they are. Even some of the sport’s biggest names, including a perennial Most Popular Driver and a three-time champion, have struggled to sell an entire schedule of races to backers this year, and many …

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Brendan Gaughan Driver Diary: A Racing Deal, Shark Diving, and the Nerd Machine

It really kind of stinks for the team the way the schedule is set us, because you don't get in a rhythm. You go one race, and you know, for the guy that wins at Daytona, it's great. He gets a month and half of being the only winner and the points leader. But for the rest of us, we want to get racing. With the RCR bunch, I was supposed to go to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was really smart on Richard's part; we took my whole truck team. Because the Truck Series was off, we took my truck team, and they were working on the car, and Danny Stockman and the No. 3 team in the Nationwide shop set the car up and then we took it and let our boys do the nuts and bolts. We took our truck, our trailer, and we sat in Las Vegas and watched it rain. That was a big bummer for all the boys. But that's part of the deal; no biggie. Now, we're having a busy stretch of testing. I'm sitting right now at Motor Mile in Radford, Virginia, testing all day. We leave Sunday for Texas Motor Speedway, so we're busy right now. It's not like we're just sitting on our butts saying, 'hmm, what do we do?' We're keeping busy and learning a bunch, but it does stink, because as a racer, you want to race. You want to get in a rhythm, you want to keep going, and you just kind of sit here going, 'Okay, well, I've got time off. My car chief took a vacation. One of our guys just had a baby, so it's nice for him…' but all of us are sitting here thinking that we want to get to the track and race. The Truck Series needs to have a couple more races. The real reason for that being the sponsors; we've got to give them value for their dollar, and 22 races is not enough to give the sponsor value. It didn't save us money; it didn't save the teams a whole bunch of money having three fewer races. NASCAR knows this, and they tried to add a couple races to the schedule. They're still trying. They didn't get it worked out. They added a road course, they added the dirt track, so they've taken some bold steps. We've heard they're going to add a new short track to the schedule next year. They'll probably gain a track somewhere, so we'll probably get back to the right number of races. That's all you can really do, just add races. We need about three or four more races for the trucks. There's a big gap here where you could add one or two. There's another gap where you could maybe add one. I don't think it's anything that's vital; it just isn't good from the sponsor end because we needs those races for sponsor value. <div style=\"float:right; width:275px; margin: 20px; border: black solid 1px; padding: 3px;\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/14494.jpg\" width=\"275\" height=\"181\"/><p style=\"margin: 3px; text-align: left; font-weight:bold;\">Find out how Brendan Gaughan has spent the long early season truck series break. It's probably not what you expect!</p></div> Our Chevy was fast at Daytona. It was way fast. It was a bummer. Everybody looks at it and some people say, \"what the hell, you're an idiot,\" and some people say they saw what happened. It depends on your point of view. I made a mistake on pit road that put us back further than we should have been. Then you only have one more stop to make the difference, and the guy that is pitting in the stall right in front of me happens to be two spots ahead of me on the race track. So, you want to get in front of him because that's the guy who gives you a good opening on pit road. I wanted to get by him, I set the deal up for about five laps. I kept watching Newberry, and the kid's never been to Daytona, so he's just trying to bide his time and be patient, but I kept making him look outside, and I made him open a hole. I was intentionally doing something to get him to open a hole. He opened the hole and I went through the hole. Once you're in the hole, I'm now basically at the mercy of somebody else to sit there and do the right thing. As soon as he felt me, he should have just moved back up, but he did not. And look, he'll never do that again. There's a difference as a driver. If I'm at your rear bumper, just barely in there, yeah, I need to get out of there. If I'm pushing at your bumper, I'm not there. But if I'm at your rear tire, there's no more 'pretty much;' I'm there. So it's a deal where, he's a good kid, he made a mistake. You can say I got impatient, I got this or that. I had a reason to get there, and it wasn't impatience. I spent laps setting it up. It was just a racing thing. I got put in a bad spot—I put myself in a bad spot. He got in a spot where he could have got himself out of it, because once I committed, there's no getting out of there. There's no hitting brakes or anything like that. It's not a big deal. It was just a racing gig, that's all. It stinks for points, but we're going to go to Martinsville, my favorite place in the world, and we're going to go there and win a race. We spent a lot of time during the offseason at our family's house in Colorado. We went up to Colorado and I had my 25-month-old skiing with me, and we went from the top of the mountain to the bottom. He's 25 months old and we went from the top of Vail Mountain to our house at the bottom. As a father, I don't know if there's any cooler of a feeling than watching your son accomplish something like that and being a part of that. It was so neat. I've been skiing since I was two and a half. It was just so invigorating to have my son and do that. It was neat. And then the new baby, there's a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of bottles and poopy diapers, but it's all worth it. It's all great. Now it's race time, and they travel to a lot of races with me. I got a new sponsor, Alliance Coach. For the last couple of years, they gave me a coach for Daytona, because we're there for two weeks. Well, I finally talked them into giving me a deal for the year. The main reason for that is I can't expect Tatum and the babies to come and stay in a hotel if they're going to come watch a race. I've got to have a motor coach, a place for them to be. Alliance stepped up and gave me a sponsorship, and I go pick up my motor coach in a couple of days, and I'm excited about that. Now I get to have the babies at a bunch of races with me, and that makes me happy! I'm a Dive Master for Lake Norman SCUBA. I do a whole lot of diving. As a matter of fact, I have a trip planned during one of our breaks, where I'm going out to this middle-of-nowhere island. I'm really excited about it. I'm taking the owners of Lake Norman SCUBA and a bunch of friends from Colorado and my wife, and the grandparents are going to watch the babies, and we're going to go do a big dive trip. I'll dive anything. This place we're going to, there's no shipwrecks; it's all big animals. We're going in a season that has schooling hammerheads, whale sharks, giant Pacific rays—it's a big animal place. I tech dive; I'm a dive master, and I'm working on getting my instructor rating. I do a lot of diving and enjoy the hell out of it. My favorite place to dive is this island called Soccoro Island. It's a protected area off of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. It's like the Galapagos of Mexico. It's phenomenal. The giant Pacific manta rays are the most gorgeous animals you'll ever see. Shark diving is fun. Stephen Spielburg created a phenomenon that lives to this day. I love diving with sharks. There are a ton of sharks out there. We're hoping this year to see schooling hammerheads and whale sharks. I could go to heaven then, it would be amazing. It's unbelievable how the rays are. They're like dolphins almost; they're very social animals. They come and play with you forever, it's just really impressive. That's my favorite place to go right now. I'm a tech diver, and what tech diving means is that I can go past what's called the decompression limit of recreational diving. I can go deeper than that; 225 feet is my max depth right now. To do that, you carry four tanks, two on your back and two on your chest. I've been to the USS Oriskany that's off the coast of Florida. The cool thing about the Oriskany is that that's the boat that John McCain took off from when he got shot down in the Vietman War and became a POW. I've been inside it, we penetrated the wreck, and I've gone to the bottom of it at 220 feet down. I love tech diving. It's a phenomenal time. I love my diving. If I can be underwater or on a mountain skiing, that's where you'll find me. There's a new Star Wars movie coming out in 2015. Lucas is a genius. He took some heat over the first three movies, so he got mad and sold the rights to Disney. They're probably the only company that has the money to do that correctly. I love the director; I do know the storylines and what they're supposed to be like. I can't wait to see what it's going to look like on film. I'm pumped. I can't wait until they come out. To watch them filmed would be another one of those heaven-type moments. It's cool. I'm waiting for them I think it's going to be done well, and they have the right people doing it. In this world, it doesn't matter if you're a race car driver or a movie producer, you need the right people. Those deals are so cool. I'm just a geek like that. Have you seen my race helmet? It's called the Nerd Machine helmet. If you watched the TV show _Chuck_, it was a TV show about a computer geek that became a spy and a computer got put in his head. He worked for the Nerd Herd, which was like the Geek Squad, but he was just this everyday computer geek that became a CIA agent. I've had a chance to meet him, the guy that owns this, and they have a Website called the Nerd Machine. I'm a big dork. I'm a _Chuck_ nerd, I'm a Comic-Con kind of guy, and I've got the Nerd Machine logo on my helmet. *Connect with Brendan Gaughan!* <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/Brendan62\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/6502.jpg\"></a><a href=\"http://www.brendangaughan.com\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/11799.jpg\"><br> \"Contact Amy Henderson\":http://www.frontstretch.com/contact/14352/

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_Looking for the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How behind Sunday's race? Amy Henderson has you covered with each week with the answers to six race day questions, covering all five W’s and even the H…the Big Six._ *Who…gets my shoutout of the race?* While he only led 12 laps on Sunday, *Brad Keselowski* reminded everyone why he's the reigning champion on Sunday. Keselowski waged fierce on-track battles for position all day long and never once backed down from a challenge. His dogged fight with Kyle Busch for third place showed what the 29-year-old is made of. Keselowski never gave an inch, but he never crossed the line into over-aggression, though he's had issues with Busch in the past. What did Keselowski show on Sunday that makes him a champion? First, he's willing to take a risk during a race, even if it's not for the lead. Lots of drivers are willing to settle for a point or two less in the late going rather than risking a crash and the loss of many points, but Keselowski isn't. Two, he knows that if you ruffle too many feathers, it will come back to bite you. He races as hard as anybody, but with nothing but respect (though he will drive others the way they driver him if he feels the need to send a reminder), and that means his peers will remember that down the road. Three, Keselowski knows how to take care of his equipment while racing for a top finish, and that's not something that just anyone can do. In short, if anyone doubts that Brad Keselowski is the real deal after his 2012 title, they had better adjust their thinking in a hurry—this driver is goin to be a title contender for years to come. *What… was THAT?* It was kind of funny that when NASCAR VP of Competition Robin Pemberton discussed the fine levied against Denny Hamlin last week for his comments about the new Gen-6 cars being difficult to race, he said that constructive criticism was acceptable. Really? Because if you listen to the comments Hamlin was fined for, that's exactly what they were. They didn't slam the car or the racing, unlike the comments fired by Kyle Busch when the CoT was rolled out (Busch as not fined for flat out saying the car sucked). I'm sure the back helicopters were circling for the conspiracy-minded when Hamlin, who has said he will not pay NASCAR's fine, was penalized for speeding on pit road, too. So what gives? For fans who want to hear their favorite drivers discuss their races and not off-track news, *it has to be frustrating knowing they're being throttled at every attempt and will soon be afraid to say anything*. This is exactly the type of thing that makes so many drivers seem so very bland—they're afraid to bite the hand that feeds them, be it sponsor or sanctioning body. It doesn't matter how genuine or funny they are outside the sound bites, because a lot of people aren't looking beyond the broadcasts to see their personalities. If NASCAR—and team sponsors—want to see more fans following them, they need to consider what's really important here. And this week, NASCAR failed miserably to put things in perspective. *Where…did the defending race winner wind up?* For Tony Stewart, winning at Las Vegas last spring was the case of a driver still riding the wave of momentum from his 2011 Cup title, and it made Stewart an early favorite to repeat in 2012. It was the first of three wins for Stewart last year, but not the start of a fourth overall title run. Stewart, who has been known to heat up with the weather, didn't get nearly as hot as the summer sun, and his repeat bid faded to a ninth-place points result. This week's performance, while not as engaging as a year ago, was more in line with Stewart's career numbers at LVMS. Stewart finished *11th* on Sunday, slightly ahead of his 12.7 average finish. Last year's winning performance was the only Vegas victory for Stewart, who was not among the eight drivers to lead this week. Still, it was uneventful, and that's exactly what Stewart needs after finishing 41st at Daytona. After finishing eighth last week, Stewart climbed to 18th in driver points this week, up five sports form Phoenix. *When…will I be loved?* I'm sure there will be fans clamoring to blame the Gen-6 car for a lack of competitiveness on Sunday, but here's the thing: it could, and did, pass without getting all upset. What it couldn't do (and neither could its predecessor) was catch the cars in front of it. I heard a rumor that NASCAR is considering limiting horsepower using a graduated spacer like they use in the Nationwide Series, but that's not enough. *If NASCAR wants tighter racing, they need to slow the cars down by about 30 miles an hour.* There are several ways they could limit the horsepower if they chose to do so. Faster isn't always better, and as speeds rise, the racing is getting less and less competitive. Couple that with the points racing NASCAR has created (that's all on them), and well, you get what you saw Sunday. The Gen-6 can race side by side, and it can pass, but it can't fix problems NASCAR won't address in the right way. *Why…worry now?* It's still a whole lot of too early to pick favorites to make the Chase, let alone win the title, but there are a few trends forming early that warrant a look. *Hendrick Motorsports* is looking strong early, with all four of its drivers in the top 14 in points, including point leader Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in third. Johnson and Earnhardt, in particular, look to be very comfortable in the Gen-6 cars at this point, and Kasey Kahne is rapidly catching on. Still, it's very early, and an advantage with the Gen-6 now doesn't mean it will still be there when the Chase rolls around, and there are other teams looking to pounce as they gain on the car. *Roush Fenway Racing* has three drivers in the top 11, including last week's winner, Carl Edwards, and rookie Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Greg Biffle and Stenhouse stumbled a bit at LVMS, though, while Edwards put up a fifth-place run. What puts RFR just a tick behind Hendrick in recent years is the team's seeming inability to sustain top finishes for all three teams; at least one has been a step behind as the season wears on. Brad Keselowski is picking up right where he left off for *Penske Racing* as the only driver with three straight top-5 runs to open 2013, but new teammate Joey Logano hasn't gotten up to speed as quickly, having yet to score a top-10 finish. *Joe Gibbs Racing* should be there when it counts, but engine and mechanical woes have plagued them early. Matt Kenseth's birthday win was a step in the right direction, and Kenseth knows how to win a title—something neither Denny Hamlin nor Kyle Busch has proven able to do yet. Finally, *Michael Waltrip Racing* is looking to show that 2012 wasn't a fluke, and are off to a good start, with both Mark Martin and Clint Bowyer in the top 10 (though Martin won't stay there due to a partial schedule; the team could still post a strong owner point run). *How…did the little guys do?* *Furniture Row Racing; Kurt Busch* (No. 78 Furniture Row / Serta Chevy): FRR was the only small team to land among the top 20 on Sunday, with Busch's 20th-place effort. Busch was the first driver to finish a lap down to Matt Kenseth, but it looked to be a 50-50 proposition for the Earnhardt-Childress Engine crowd this week anyway; while Kevin Harvick and Paul Menard finished in the top 10, Busch and Jeff Burton finished the day midpack, with Busch besting Burton by six spots. *Phoenix Racing; Austin Dillon* (No. 51 Tag Heuer Chevy): Dillon had a solid day given the equipment he's in. His 21st-place finish was second-best among this group, not bad for a driver with limited experience on a track where the small teams are unlikely to compete with the poerhouses. It was also Dillon's best result in his four-race Cup experience, so it wasn't a bad day for this team, just an average one. *Wood Brothers Racing; Trevor Bayne* (No 21 Motorcraft Ford): Bayne is a better intermediate-track driver than his Cup results show, but he's one of the drivers whose day hinges more on the engine the team is given from Roush-Yates, and Wood Brothers is about eighth in line in that hierarchy. Bayne finished the day a lap down in 23rd place. *Tommy Baldwin Racing; Dave Blaney & J.J. Yeley*(No 7 SANY Chevy & No. 36 Accell Construction Chevy): It wasn't an easy day for the TBR drivers, but it wasn't a start & park day, either. This is a team that wants to go the distance every week, but were often forced to the garage early last year when the money wasn't there. Blaney had the better finish of the two TBR drivers on Sunday, finishing 24th, a lap behind the leaders, while Yeley had a rougher go of it, ending the West Coast trip eight laps down in 36th. *Front Row Motorsports; David Ragan & Josh Wise & David Gilliland* (No. 34 Ford & No. 35 MDS Transport' Riviera Hotel & Casino Ford & No. 38 Long John Silver's Ford): Just one of the three FRM cars managed a top-30 result in Sin City, with David Gilliland leading the team to a 28th-place finish. Unsponsored David Ragan ended up 31st, and Josh Wise came home 35th, seven laps down. This is one team who is probably glad NASCAR did away with the top 35 rule-not one of the FRM cars is among that group this year so far. *Germain Racing; Casey Mears* (No. 13 GEICO Ford): Here is a team that's shown vast improvement in the last couple of years-Mears entered the day 19th in driver points after a top 15 run last week and has been strong in the last several restrictor-plate races—but is in the same boat as the other small teams on the intermediate tracks. Perhaps even a smaller, leaker boat; if Wood Bros. Racing is eighth in the engine line, Germain is somewhere between ninth and 12th every week, and that shows up on this type of track. Mears also fought an ill-handling car all day en route to his 29th-place finish, two laps off the pace. *JTG-Daugherty Racing; Bobby Labonte* (No. 47 Kingsford Toyota): Labonte had a tough day on Sunday, going for a spin late in the race. Still, the veteran driver was able to recover enough to finish 30th, four laps behind. Labonte may not be the championship driver he once was, and he's certainly not in championship caliber equipment, but one thing you can say for the 2000 champ is that if he can find a way to salvage at least a halfway decent run, he will do it. *Swan Racing; David Stremme* (No. 30 Swan Racing / Lean1 Toyota): Perhaps the most memorable moment for this team on Sunday was in the closing laps, when Matt Kenseth was pleading with his spotter to ask lapped traffic to give him the top lane, and Stremme was the only one to challenge him, giving Kenseth and his fans a momentary fright before their victory. Still, this new team was running at the end and not in the garage as so many start-ups find themselves early. Stremme wound up six laps behind Kenseth in 32nd spot. *BK Racing; David Reutimann & Travis Kvapil * (No. 83 & 93 Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyotas): At times on Sunday, it looked more like Reutimann and Kvapil were simply trying to survive the day, staying out of the way of the leaders and trying to keep their cars in one piece. Reutimann limed home six laps down in 33rd, but Kvapil's engine gave up the ghost in the late going, leaving him in 39th. This team is one who should be showing more improvement from last fall to now. They were behind on building cars in early 2012, but that can only be the excuse for poor performance for so long. *FAS Lane Racing; Ken Schrader* (No. 32 Federated Auto Parts Ford): Frankie Stoddard's team is among the poorest of the poor, but you have to hand it to them, they don't pack it in early. This week, veteran Ken Schrader piloted the No. 32 to a 37th-place finish, next to last among the cars that were running at the end. You have to feel for Stoddard, who was among the best crew chiefs in the sport a decade ago, because he genuinely wants to make his team succeed despite the uphill battle they face every week. *NEMCO Motorsports; Joe Nemechek* (No. 87 MaddiesPlaceRocks.com Toyota): Nemechek, who has in the past, parked early to fund his Nationwide Series efforts, has tried to go the distance each week so far in 2013 with modest backing. A former NNS champion and Cup winner, Nemecheck was running at the end on Sunday, though he was more than 50 laps off the pace in 40th. *Leavine Family Racing; Scott Speed * (No. 95 Surrender the Sponsor Ford): Transmission failure or start and park? It was hard to tell with this team on Sunday, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and include them, since they raced past the halfway mark, which included having to make some pit stops, en route to their 41st-place result. However, if the trend continues, they'll be left off the list as a start & park effort.

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_Charles Schultz,_ the creator of The Peanuts, crafted a line of books that followed the idea of: _Happiness is…_ Each page depicted different things from which a person should find - guess what? - happiness. The overall concept showed how the emotion comes in many forms, blah blah blah… this idea is not one that requires any kind of advanced degree. Well, Sunday's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway should, like Schultz's book serve to bring a little bit of happiness to everyone that follows NASCAR. Was the race outstanding? No, but it was not terrible either. For the first time, perhaps this season the racing the Gen-6 car provided gave fans at least a few solid nuggets of hope to hang their hats on. Let’s get the negatives out of the way first, ones we've heard too often in recent weeks. First, by lap 35, the gap between first and tenth had already grown to ten seconds, which would hardly establish competitive racing. Even worse, by lap 60, half of the field had already fallen a lap behind. Maybe that is growing pains with the Gen-6 car, or maybe something was amiss, but any time half the Sprint Cup grid is already down a lap, a quarter into the race something is problematic. And then, almost by script, the mysterious debris caution arrived at lap 66. Any fan could have predicted this occurrence – they are as routine as Christmas, Easter, Independence Day, and taxes. Or the sun rising in the morning. To the surprise of no one, the magical debris failed to be shown. No need to mention the caution on lap 160 – just another reason to bunch the field, even though not only did Marcos Ambrose not spin, but blended back into traffic. Whatever. So where’s the good stuff, the happiness? Glad you asked. *Happiness is…* Darrell Waltrip. Thank you, Darrell Waltrip. You gave us another one. With “Boogity, Boogity, Boogity” as stale as a bag of marshmallows opened in 1998, you gave us another word to add to our lexicon. On lap 127, Waltrip referred to a gaggle of cars that impeded the leader Jimmie Johnson as a \"debalacle.\" The spelling may not be right, but any time viewers get treated to a mix of debacle, diabolical, and bottleneck all in one word, then everyone has gained something. What that something is – yet to be determined. Feel free to impress everyone by using debalacle in your conversations. Oh, right, there was racing. *Happiness is…* Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne battling to the end. Kahne looked like the proverbial \"class of the field\" all day, and when the green flag dropped on those last laps, Kenseth appeared to be nothing but a stepping stone on the way to Kahne’s victory. As Lee Corso would be happy to deliver – not so fast, my friend. Kahne could not muster the speed to pass Kenseth, even though the two of them ran within car lengths the final 20 laps. Was it good racing? The easy answer is yes. The more philosophical answer is: well, it wasn’t bad. *Happiness is…* The third and fourth place cars of Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch battling for position. Fans have indicated that they want to see more racing on the track and with dual battles for the top 4 spots, there's reason to believe that some of what fans have been looking for might be showing up at the track, more consistently soon. Setting aside the fact that first and second had run away from the field, there's a sense of encouragement to be gleaned from a weekend in Sin City. The cars in the top 10 all raced with a certain amount of competitiveness; Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Martin Truex, Jr. also were side-by-side at the end for seventh. One of the intentions of this car was to encourage this type of racing, on intermediates once again. It is possible, that even with a modicum of success they might have found something to work with down the road. *Happiness is…* Tires not being a factor. Kenseth drove to the victory on old tires and there was nary an issue throughout the race. After the problems that many faced at Phoenix, having their treads last so long allowed for crew chiefs and drivers to opt for varying strategies. Of course, the flip side of this notion is that Goodyear still has yet to make a tire that degrades in a way that provides tactical decision-making. But hey, it was better to watch drivers actually turn laps rather than waiting for one to pound it into the wall with another right-front blown like last week. *Happiness is…* Keeping your mouth shut. What’s that you say, Denny Hamlin? NASCAR showed its totalitarian rule by muzzling Hamlin and sending a message to all its drivers. With a программа, or program, straight out of the Cold War, the \"powers that be\" again showed a lack of vision. Isn’t the United States the country who established that whole freedom of speech idea? That may be the case, but it does not cover criticizing NASCAR. Tsk tsk, Denny, didn’t you know? *Happiness is…* Watching the cars a lap down have to race each other. Though FOX focused on the leaders, and for this race, with some good reason, many of the position battles in the back of the field were competitive. Overall, this notion indicates that while some teams may have nailed the Las Vegas set-up, that those still figuring it out are all in the same situation and will be fighting each other race by race. The monster organizations like Joe Gibbs, Hendrick, Roush, and even Childress are all going to sit in the front, as the past two races illustrate. The fluctuation, however, between those outside of the top 10 might be some of the more interesting competition as the season progresses. *Happiness is…* Looking forward to Bristol. Enjoy – or you don’t like warm puppies. *Connect with Huston!* <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/turtlewords\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/6502.jpg\"></a><br> \"Contact Huston Ladner\":http://www.frontstretch.com/contact/40694/

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