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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.

FOX Wines And Dines The Lady In Black To A Second Straight Saturday Night Success

There must be something in the air at race tracks on a Saturday night. After a less-than-stellar outing at Talladega, the FOX Sports broadcasting team again turned in a performance deserving of the Emmy Award they received just a few short weeks ago. In fact, the last two races at Richmond _and_ Darlington -- both on Saturday nights -- have come off nice and smooth, with few mistakes and less of the fluff that turns off and jades so many avid fans. But just like the right side of Kyle Busch’s race-winning car, the TV coverage wasn't without its fair share of Darlington stripes. Here is a breakdown of how FOX fared during this Mother's Day Weekend event: * Since the Sprint Cup Series no longer races at Darlington twice a year, writers, producers, and reporters have a daunting task of cramming all of the elements of the egg-shaped oval into just one weekend.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Edition

Despite a different track surface, it was the same ol' Darlington Saturday night, with the Lady in Black’s walls jumping out and biting drivers on several occasions ... including race winner Kyle Busch. But while there were some adjustments made to the track, adjustments made to this week’s “HOT” list are minimal. Kyle Busch continues to dominate. while Junior Nation continues to enjoy the success of the No. 88 team with another top 5. Still, two new drivers are featured in this week’s “WARM” and “COLD” lists heading into All-Star weekend. There may not be a points-paying race next week, but it’s still an opportunity for struggling teams to find some extra speed before the Coca-Cola 600. To see who some of those teams are, check out this week’s edition of Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in Sprint Cup. *HOT* *Kyle Busch:* This man is flat out unstoppable right now. Top 10s in five consecutive races -- with Top 3s in four of them -- to go along with a win this week keeps Busch at the top of the standings.

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The Bubble Breakdown: Dave Blaney Rides Momentum into the Top 35

NASCAR’S Sprint Cup teams raced under the lights Saturday night at what many believe to be the crown jewel of the series, Darlington Raceway. The track labeled as “to tough to tame” looked quite timid during qualifying for several of the bubble teams as five drivers managed to qualify their cars in the top 18 during Friday evenings qualifying session. But Saturday night the Lady in Black showed her true self, as only two of those bubble teams were able to manage top 20 finishes, and left us wondering why the others even bothered to paint the right sides of their cars. As the checkered flag waved, one team raced its way into the top 35, one wrecked its way out, and the rest were just happy to get out in one piece.

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Ten Points To Ponder… After 2008 Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington

*1. No Popularity Contest* - Joe Gibbs Racing “hot shoe” Kyle Busch, winner of Saturday night's Dodge Challenger 500 won honors as the First Quarter Driver of the Year for 2008. The voting panel, made up of individuals knowledgeable in the numerous disciplines of U.S. motor racing, picked the 23-year old Las Vegas, NV. native for his winning performances in not just his Sprint Cup gig, but his impressive results in NASCAR’s Craftsman Truck Series and Nationwide Series as well. Busch trounced his nearest rivals, totaling 142 points to runner-up and fellow NASCAR driver Carl Edwards, who garnered 72 points. IndyCar driver Danica Patrick, the first female in history to score a win in that series, placed third with 51 points. The voting period ended after the Talladega race and well before Busch was involved in a controversial late race accident while battling fan favorite Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at Richmond. Busch went on to finish second to Clint Bowyer, while Earnhardt, Jr., though also finishing in the Top 10, lost any chance he may have had to end a two-year winless streak due to what many believed to be overly aggressive driving on the part of Busch. Earnhardt Nation will not be allowed to cast votes in the Second Quarter Driver of the Year for 2008 balloting, either!

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Nationwide Series Breakdown: 2008 Diamond Hill Plywood 200 at Darlington

*In A Nutshell:* In a word: dominating. That’s how one could describe Tony Stewart’s run at Darlington in the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 Friday night. Stewart, who qualified 3rd, led on three different occasions for a total of 90 laps to score the win. His fourth victory in the Nationwide Series this season, it also doubled as his first in any NASCAR division at the Lady in Black. Stewart's only serious challenge came on a green/white/checkered restart, courtesy of former second place runner Mark Martin running out of gas with four laps to go. As Martin slowed, he was hit from behind, resulting in an accident which collected six cars. Most of them were running in the Top 8; however, series point leader Clint Bowyer avoided it all to setup a showdown with Stewart for the lead. But the No. 20 pulled away in NASCAR's version of overtime, beating the No. 2 of Bowyer by .815 seconds -- and reasserting the team's dominance in the series.

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It May Be Time to Panic for Michael Waltrip

A year and a half ago, Michael Waltrip was successfully wooing employees, a very eager foreign auto manufacturer, and several high profile sponsors to sign onto his new racing team. The pundits predicted that with the backing of both Toyota and cash-rich sponsorship, Michael Waltrip Racing was going to be a contender in Sprint Cup right away, maybe even winning a race or two. Forty-six races later, Michael Waltrip’s three Cup teams are barely in the top 35—and that is an improvement over last season. Two major sponsors, Burger King and Domino’s, have departed. Another, UPS, is very likely on its way out, leaving only the ever-loyal NAPA and Aaron’s, at least for now. Performance that is well below the expectations of big sponsors and a heavily invested automobile brand, combined with ethical incidents raising questions about his leadership, have led to the current bleak situation for Waltrip’s team. So as usual, the pundits were wrong.

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Rick Crawford Driver Diary: Everyone Is Welcome at Circle Bar Racing

I went to the NHRA drag races while we've been off. I got to see Ashley Force win in her final round in funny car and that was pretty neat to see that. She's a nice young lady driving a Ford Mustang and she actually beat her dad in that one. How about that?! It was a good day for John Force Racing and Ford Motor Company. I got to hang out with my friend Cory McClenathan. He was actually number one qualifier that day. I can't get enough RPM.

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Side by Side: Who Got The Better Deal — Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Or Kyle Busch?

_Editor's Note : The following is a special edition of Frontstretch's Side-By-Side. Occasionally throughout the season, two of your favorite Frontstretch writers will duke it out in a debate concerning one of NASCAR's biggest stories. Don't let us be the only ones to speak our minds, though...be sure to read both sides and let us know what you think about the situation in the comment section below!_ *Today's Question : Three months into one of the biggest free agent moves in history, which one of NASCAR's two biggest drivers has the upper hand (i.e. better deal)? Is it "Good Guy" Dale Earnhardt, Jr. -- NASCAR's Most Popular Driver -- or resident "Bad Boy" Kyle Busch -- its most aggressive?* Doug: In Junior’s new situation at Hendrick Motorsports, he is teammates with Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, meaning that he can flee from some of the pressure of being a team’s only marquia driver -- a pressure that he wanted to avoid at times at DEI. His transition also did not cost him a dime, as the No. 88 AMP Energy /N ational Guard souvenir sales are through the roofs simply because of the driver change. He shed the image of a crazed, partying Bud-drinker, then rebranded his image by switching to a more clean-cut team, with tamer and more lucrative sponsorship. Tom: Of course, the difference between Junior and Busch is that Busch has cashed in on his opportunities to win; while the No. 88 car has had a tendency to fade over a race’s final segment, the No. 18 simply turns it on when it matters most. And while Junior has faced quite a rebuilding job at Hendrick (the No. 88 was the former No. 25 car that missed the Chase last year), the task faced by Busch at Gibbs was just as difficult … if not more so.

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Fanning the Flames: All Darlington, All The Time

My beloved Derby has come and gone, and so have Talladega and Richmond; but all three gave us spectacular racing action. Now, there's Darlington on Mother's Day Eve, two weekends in Charlotte are on the agenda... and the fish are biting, too. Oh, how I love the month of May! You guys gave me a good batch this week. Keep those questions rolling in, and I’ll get to ya as soon as I can. Here’s your portal to my world. *Q: What are we to expect from the newly repaved Darlington Raceway? If speeds are up like they were in the tire tests, will it make it harder for drivers to pass? And what about the excessive tire wear? Is that still a concern, or has the repave taken care of that? Thank you.* _— Donnie_ *A:* I really hate to say this, because I just love Darlington; but unfortunately, I’ve been told that the speeds are up so high racing side-by-side in the turns is going to be difficult. “Almost out of the question,” was the quote given to me by a source, in fact. It looks like the new asphalt -- as we’ve seen on a number of tracks over the years -- is going to need some weathering before it comes in.

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Is NASCAR Bluffing, Or Will They Go “All In” On A New Drug Policy?

A few weeks ago, I penned a "column":https://frontstretch.com/jmeyer/15788/ that basically said Aaron Fike’s admission of doing heroin on race days was tantamount to holding a Royal Flush when it came to forcing NASCAR’s hand on reexamining its drug testing policy. Backing Fike’s play was Tony Stewart and former Fike boss, Kevin Harvick, both of which said that they have never been tested for drugs since they began their NASCAR careers. Well, this week the spot responded in their typical fashion, stating that while they do keep an eye on other professional sports’ drug testing policies, by and large, their system gave them more power and had certainly been serving them quite well, thank you very much. “No system is perfect,” said Jim Hunter, NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications. “Our current policy has served us extremely well. We do have discussions from time to time regarding possible alternatives, so I wouldn’t rule those out. But I think what our policy has allowed us to do up to this certain point in time has served us well.”

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