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Frontstretch Staff

Frontstretch Staff
The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

Side-By-Side: Whose Fault Was It — Tony Stewart Or Kurt Busch?

*Today's Question : Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch tangled Friday in Bud Shootout practice, destroying Busch's No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge. It's a wreck Busch responded to by using his damaged race car to beat and bang Stewart's vehicle all the way down pit road, the second such time he's done so in the past year (see Dover, June 2007).* Amy Henderson: Why on Earth would anyone think telling Busch to behave was enough? Obviously, the money and championship points have not deterred him from driving a 3400-pound missile toward unprotected crewmen on pit road -- and we're supposed to believe that telling him to "play nice" will? NASCAR should have suspended Busch from the Budweiser Shootout, at the very least. Bryan Keith: How can anyone blame Kurt Busch for going after Stewart? This is the same Tony Stewart that wrecked Busch in exactly the same way at Dover last year ... putting him in a deep points hole as he strived to make the Chase. This is the same Tony Stewart that has a history of run-ins at Daytona (just ask Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin), the same one who wrecked out with Busch in last February's 500. Every single thing might not always be Tony's fault; but frankly, I don't buy the theory that a plethora of NASCAR stars have just developed a habit of braking in front of the No. 20.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not In Sprint Cup: 2008 Preview Edition

The last time we were in Florida for a race, *Jimmie Johnson* and the No. 48 team were basking in a sea of confetti after winning their second consecutive Sprint Cup title at Homestead-Miami Speedway. A lot has changed since that historic day in November; there's been a powerful addition to the Toyota camp, and the sport's most popular driver debuted with Johnson's organization in convincing fashion during Saturday's Budweiser Shootout. Those are just two of a number of storylines and questions heading into 2008 -- some will have to wait to be answered, while some may be answered here. For those of you who are new to this column, well ... so am I. Moving over from the Bubble Breakdown, I'll be replacing Cami Starr, who has done a wonderful job keeping you, the racing fan, updated on the trends of what's happening in NASCAR's premiere series over the past few years. With that said, here's the first edition of Who's Hot / Who's Not for 2008. Use it for fantasy purposes, use it for an unbiased view of where your favorite driver ranks (not that you'd be biased in the first place, right?), or simply read it to kill some time. Either way, I'm glad to have you on board for the upcoming season.

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Ten Points To Ponder: After the Bud Shootout

*1. Bad Karma For Robby.* Robby Gordon seems to have been bit with some bad karma as of late. Last month, he lost approximately $4.5 million when the Dakar Rally was canceled due to the threat of terrorism in Mauritania, an unforeseen bill which prompted him to admit that the loss hit the Robby Gordon Motorsports "slush fund" pretty hard. Now, he may be looking at a fine from NASCAR for a situation not of his making. It seems that Gillett Evernham Motorsports, RGM's new partner, sent an unapproved nose for his recently converted Ford-to-Dodge race car, one that officials wasted no time in confiscating from the No. 7 Jim Beam Dodge. A couple of pondering points here, though; will GEM reimburse Robby Gordon for any fine that comes from the illegal part ... and how cool would it be to have a $4.5 million slush fund? *2. Boys Will Be Boys.* Habitual "bad boys" Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart were once again at each other's throats after wrecking in Friday's practice leading up to the Bud Shootout, possibly facing fines and penalties to be dished out early next week. But really... didn't we all enjoy it? The intrigue now is that they've forced the sanctioning body to define what Chairman Brian France meant in last month's back-to-basics proclamation, saying, in effect, that it was important to allow drivers to be themselves if they hoped to win back some of the longtime fans who have become increasingly disgruntled in recent years. To fine, or not to fine?

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Bubble Breakdown: Previewing The 2008 Battle For The Top 35, Part II

Being in the Top 35 for the first five races this season is a great luxury for those lucky enough to secure a spot at the conclusion of 2007. But after that, each team has to perform well enough to stay there in order to keep enjoying those benefits. "Last week":https://frontstretch.com/bsimmons/14206/ in ths column, I talked about the teams on the outside of the Top 35 looking in; but this week, I'm going to touch on some of the teams that wound up just _inside_ the Top 35 last year. If past performance is any indication, they're the ones most in jeopardy of being on the bubble this season; and with the competition closer than ever, I'll rate the chances I think they'll have at still being locked in by race six -- or if they're headed towards some frantic Friday afternoons instead.

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Why Brian France Is Driving Me Insane

I honestly didn't want to start my year out like this, but I have been given no choice. You see, what happened was Brian France opened his mouth and spoke -- the ramifications of which are further proof that the world has gone totally insane. That's right, insane ... it's to the point that I would rather listen to a year's worth of presidential candidates than 20 minutes of Brian France. That's bad... but the _really_ insane part is that, put side by side, I would be more inclined to put my trust in, and understand, the politician. If you continue on through the rest of this column, you too will be more than willing to tune into the next Presidential Debate, if for no other reason than to bring a bit more understanding and mental stability back into your life. At least with politicians, you know and they know and they know that you know that they are lying to you. Well, Brian France simply isn't that sharp.

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Fanning the Flames: Buyouts and Point Swaps…A Greasy Affair for NASCAR

The end of the offseason always seems to bring an unexpected surprise... and this year was no exception. Just when you thought the driver / car owner dance was over, up jumps Robby Gordon like one of the girls in _Grease_ sitting along the edge of the gym, waiting for some guy in an ill-fitting suit, white socks, and sporting a ducktail to get in Rydell High's dance-off. George Gillett proved to be that guy ... and in the course of one short musical number, the No. 7 team left Ford sitting alone in the corner. Hey, more power to ya, Robby. You've gone to this dance stag the last two years, and finally got a Danny Zucko-type to whirl you around the joint for awhile.

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2008 ARCA RE/MAX Series Preview

Perhaps one of the most underrated racing tours in the U.S. today is the 56-year old ARCA RE/MAX series. Known for its competitiveness, diverse schedule, and ability to produce future Sprint Cup stars, this series is one of the best options for fans who love old school racing. Today, Frontstretch.com will provide a 2008 season preview which will cover the drivers behind the wheel, events on the schedule, and rule changes, so you're ready and raring to go for the year ahead. The offseason certainly did not provide any off time for several members of the ARCA circuit, as many of the drivers changed teams, and teams themselves changed names. Perhaps the most notable Silly Season move involved Frank Kimmel, who will no longer pilot Larry Clement's familiar No. 46 Ford -- the team which Kimmel won nine ARCA championships with. Instead, the veteran has partnered with Cunningham Motorsports to form Kimmel Racing, and will now drive the No. 44 Dodge Charger. Taking Kimmel's place in the vaunted No. 46 is rookie Matt Carter, son of long-time Sprint Cup crew chief Travis Carter.

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Mirror Driving: Was Robby Gordon Saved? Is The Bud Shootout Unfair? And A Testing Wrap-Up — Who Cared?

*With CoT testing on the intermediate tracks at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and California Speedway complete, the Toyotas looked strong while the Hendrick juggernaut appeared to be struggling with setups. How does this change preseason expectations for these teams as well as their competitors?* Tony: It doesn't. Hendrick has been known to play around with its setups, so we don't know what was on their agenda for that test. Matt T.: Not sure how it changes expectations, but each team may have a better sense of what they're working with following the tests. Now they at least have a baseline of some sort. Tom: I think it tells us that with the Car of Tomorrow, the difference between manufacturers is almost nonexistent.

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Rule Changes And Missed Opportunities

If NASCAR's offseason rule changes are any indication -- in addition to Brian France's preseason quotes -- it appears that the sanctioning body is satisfied with how they are currently operating the Sprint Cup Series. But was that the right stance to take? There were no dramatic changes in the point system for the Championship Chase format, nor was there much relief for teams outside the Top 35 that are disadvantaged in qualifying for races. It seems that the rules committee did not deem it necessary to look at further tightening the championship provisional rules, or curbing the increasingly commonplace practice of "team orders" being given to manipulate the final race results. These issues, among others which surfaced during the 2007 race season, seemed in need of more than a passing glance. That's not to say that the powers that be sat idle in the offseason; however, they seem to have fallen short on some of the rule changes they did make.

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Top Ten Ridiculous Statements By Brian France in 2008 — In The Same Day!

10. "We certainly are proud we've been able to attract new fans virtually every year NASCAR has been in existence. But we're also proud of those fans who have been with us for many decades." 9. "I think what I hope you'll take out of today is we're getting back to the basics, we're going to try to minimize the change going forward as best we can and focus on what we've always focused on, which is the best product in the world." 8. "And while ratings are always going to fluctuate, we're proud of the upward trend over the last decade." 7. "Hendrick Motorsports, well, they're on their way of being the New England Patriots on wheels."

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