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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.

There Will Be Only One Junior To Blame

When Dale Earnhardt, Jr. took to the track for testing Monday in the new No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Mountain Dew / National Guard Chevrolet, his presence at Daytona officially ushered in a new era for fans hopeful for greater success in the coming years for stock car racing's Most Popular Driver. Now that the son of NASCAR legend and seven-time Cup Champion Dale Earnhardt is officially driving for arguably the top race team on the circuit, it appears that all systems are a go for Earnhardt, Jr. to take his career accomplishments to a higher level and quite possibly not only contend for championships, but win one or more. On Tuesday, crew chief Tony Eury, Jr. took that momentum and ran with it - he predicted the No. 88 would win no less than four races during its first year on the Sprint Cup tour. Of course, with Earnhardt's demonstrated ability to chauffeur a race car and the Hendrick organization behind him, there is every reason to believe that the long-suffering members of Earnhardt Nation will be rewarded. But like any good prediction, nothing is set in stone. What if Junior's performance does not live up to the high expectations set by both Earnhardt, Jr. and his fans? Who will be to blame then? Chances are, it'll be the man turning the wrenches.

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Down in Daytona: Relieved Blaney Says “Toyota Has Definitely Improved”

Toyota may have looked strong all this week in single-car runs, but all but four of those teams are far from being able to breathe easy with Speedweeks now one month away. Sure, they've been fast in the two sessions of winter testing at Daytona, but the three Joe Gibbs Racing entries of *Tony Stewart*, *Kyle Busch*. and *Denny Hamlin*, as well as *Dave Blaney* -- driver of the No. 22 Caterpillar Toyota for Bill Davis Racing -- are the only teams that are guaranteed a spot in the sport's most prestigious race. Those inside the Top 35 in car owner points following the final event at Homestead last year were guaranteed a starting spot for each of the first five races of 2008, and while the Gibbs cars did so under the Chevrolet banner, Blaney's No. 22 team was the lone Toyota team to finish inside the bubble last season. With a starting spot assured, you might expect the team to take it easy; but they've done anything but, running strong in Preseason Thunder testing throughout the month of January.

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Down in Daytona: Toyotas Overshadow Junior/Hendrick, Dominate Single-Car Runs In Opening Day of Session 2

Ever since the announcement was made, NASCAR fans everywhere have waited to see *Dale Earnhardt, Jr.* take his brand new Hendrick Motorsports ride to the track. After a tease last week - when Junior showed up at Preseason Thunder testing in Daytona one week early to cheer on new teammates *Jimmie Johnson*, *Jeff Gordon*, and *Casey Mears* - anticipation was at a fever pitch. Well, NASCAR's Most Popular Driver didn't disappoint; but neither did a manufacturer who looks well on their way to avoiding a sophomore slump, surprising once again as the second session of Daytona testing got underway for the Sprint Cup Series.

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Down in Daytona: Park on Hand for Charity Go-Kart Event

NASCAR testing may be going on all this month at Daytona International Speedway, but as teams headed back to their hotels Monday night, the racing was just beginning across the river at the Daytona Lagoon water park. Former Sprint Cup driver Steve Park, Jamie France, and SPEED TV analyst Dan Pardus were among those taking part in the Cypress Coquina Bank 100 charity go-kart race presented by the Rotary Club of Ormond Beach. The turnout couldn't have been any better -- and the same goes for the competition. The event featured five-car teams and 20-lap segments totaling 100 laps at the Water Park's multi-level go-kart track. But while the action was hot and heavy, so was the financial commitment, as the night was held to support a number of causes.

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