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Matt McLaughlin Mouths Off: Official NASCAR Sponsors Taking Money Away From Teams

A news item earlier this week probably flew well beneath most fans' radar screens, but it raised my blood pressure up a notch or two. It hearkens back to comments I made in last week’s column that touched on NASCAR's current economic crisis. Some fans reading that have written to strongly support my opinion; but apparently, no one in Daytona Beach is getting the message. In case you missed it, this week NASCAR offered up "news" in one of their turgid press releases to the effect that O’Reilly Auto Parts is now the Official Auto Parts Supplier of NASCAR. As such, the memo noted the deal allows for O’Reilly Auto Parts to be "an exclusive NASCAR partner, and utilize NASCAR marks and marketing programs in store and in related media." (Of course, it also left open the possibility that that some other parts chain could become the Official Truck Parts Supplier, Official SUV Parts Supplier, or the Official Mini-Van Parts Supplier of NASCAR, since O’Reilly only got the "official auto parts" part of the deal. Such a contract seems typical of the ravenous greedhounds at NASCAR who are milking the life out of this sport.)

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Matt McLaughlin Mouths Off: The Nationwide Series is Worth Saving

If things are grim in the Cup garage, things in the Nationwide garage border on apocalyptic. The litany of bad news arriving from that side of the fence makes recent issues of the Wall Street Journal look like Mad magazine. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is cutting back from two cars to one full-time effort and a part time team due to lack of sponsorship. His driver, Brad Keselowski, is currently highest in the Nationwide Series among full-time competitors. If the biggest name in NASCAR can't secure sponsorship, that doesn't leave a lot of hope for the smaller teams.

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Matt McLaughlin Mouths Off: Looking Back at 2 Atlantas & Everything in Between

A lot has happened in the world in the eight months since that first Atlanta Cup event. Back in early March of this year, not too many people had any idea who this Barack Obama guy was and Hillary Clinton was the presumptive Democratic candidate in this year’s election. The Dow Jones Industrial average was hovering right around 11,750 when it closed that Friday afternoon. The Ford F-150 was still America’s best-selling vehicle but people were getting concerned about gas prices. That weekend the nationwide average for a gallon of regular was around $3.16. Fortunately, it’s lower than that now, but not before a budget-busting bout of $4-a-gallon at the pump. Perhaps the most notable post-race news after that March weekend in Atlanta was that Kyle Busch had scored Toyota’s historic (tragic?) first Cup victory. As a result, Busch left Atlanta as the Cup points leader with a 73-point lead over second-place Greg Biffle. Since then, Busch has gone on to score seven more Cup wins and nine Nationwide wins. At one point he had a 390-point lead in the Cup standings. Ironically Busch currently finds himself the cellar dweller of the Chase, a staggering 465 points out of the lead.

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Matt McLaughlin Mouths Off: Going Back to the Drawing Board

Ultimately, the Chase was destined to fail. Fans attend a race, or watch it on TV, hoping to see a good event that day - not one piece of a 10-piece puzzle that will later determine the title. And no matter what, fans want to see a great finish. They may be tangentially aware of the championship implications of the race results afterwards (or the networks will be happy to hammer them over their heads with it to alert them), but they just want to see good racing. In my mind, the root of the problem is the damn new Car of Horror. OK, it's ugly, but that’s not the main point. Pretty is as pretty does. The cars were supposed to be harder to drive; but by and large, they have appeared to be impossible to drive. It's clear to me that at this point, they’re just not working out. There’s been little side-by-side racing and numerous times where tire problems have made a mess of the entire event - most notably the debacle at the Brickyard. With their high centers of gravity, weight distribution and aerodynamics, the new cars have seemed to throw a curveball at Goodyear that they just can’t hit. And in the height of irony, the problem the “new car” was intended to solve was aerodynamic issues. Remember when the old car lost the air off its nose and began plowing to the point that passing was nearly impossible? If anything, the new car has just made the problem worse.

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Matt McLaughlin Mouths Off: Halfway Home – A 2008 Chase Review

Five weeks ago, many pundits -- this humble scribe included -- boldly predicted the Chase was a two-man battle between Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards. I am hopeful that at the time I picked Jimmie Johnson as a potential spoiler -- at least that would make me look less like a moron than I currently feel. But like those disclaimers on mutual funds proclaim in small print, "past performance does not guarantee future results." So, here at the halfway point let's take a look at the 12 Chasers and how they’re faring, with the above disclaimer still in play:

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