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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.

Rick Crawford Driver Diary: Until We Meet Again

2007 was a good year for the Circle Bar Racing team and the No. 14 Power Stroke Diesel Ford by International. It was a great year for Circle Bar Racing to have two of its trucks, with our teammate David Starr in the Top 10 in the points and the No. 14 truck in the Top 5 in the points. We had a good strong finish at Homestead with third place, and it was just a good year for us. My hat's off to Hornaday for winning the championship and Skinner for second. Those guys had great years, and earned top finishes all year, and ultimately deserved to battle it out for a championship. The banquet was painless. It was short and sweet. My owner's daughter, Lisa Mitchell, received the top finishing Ford award for the No. 14 truck from Ford Racing. That was a pretty neat moment for her. She gave a speech thanking everybody at Ford Motor Company and International and all of our sponsors and everybody that worked on the crew for a great year - and especially from her Dad. I received a Top 5 award in the year end points and that was pretty neat. I got to be on stage and that's a good place to be at the end of the year, on stage. That's what everybody shoots for, so I'd say it was a good year for us.

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2007 Driver Review: Denny Hamlin

*2007 Ride:* No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet *2007 Primary Sponsor:* FedEx *2007 Owner:* Joe Gibbs *2007 Crew Chief:* Mike Ford *Stats:* 36 Races, 1 Win, 12 Top 5s, 18 Top 10s, 1 pole, 12th in points. *High Points:* Denny Hamlin's lone win of the season came at Loudon this July, and was definitely the high point for the season as much as finishing positions were concerned. Leading 46 laps, Hamlin outdueled the Hendrick Motorsports crowd to finally cash in on a Car of Tomorrow victory after falling short to Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson on several occasions in the Spring.

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2007 Driver Review: Jeff Green

*2007 Ride*: No. 66 Haas CNC Racing Chevrolet *2007 Primary Sponsor*: Best Buy *2007 Owner*: Gene Haas *2007 Crew Chief* : Harold Holly *Stats* : 32 Races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 3 Top 10s, 32nd in points. *High Point*: Jeff Green and the No. 66 team struggled through the first four races of the year, but hit on something in the first CoT event at Bristol. After qualifying ninth - his best start of the season - Green came home in sixth position. The Top 10 did not come easy at the World's Fastest Half-Mile; Green fought back from a lap down, moving up three spots over the final 12 laps to earn his best finish of 2007. He'd wind up matching that twice more over the course of the season, placing 6th at both Phoenix and Loudon - also Car of Tomorrow events.

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2007 Driver Review: David Gilliland

*2007 Ride:* No. 38 Robert Yates Racing Ford *2007 Primary Sponsor:* M&M's *2007 Owner:* Robert Yates *2007 Crew Chief:* Todd Parrott *Stats:* 36 Races, 0 Wins, 1 Top 5, 2 Top 10's, 1 Pole, 28th in points. *High Point:* The 2007 season started with a bang as Gilliland captured the pole for the season-opening Daytona 500 and finished an encouraging 8th in that prestigious event. With the exception of a fourth place finish in the April running of the Aaron's 499 at Talladega, Alabama the No. 38 team that had left Daytona in February with so much hope found the going difficult the remainder of the season as they were largely non-competitive and relegated to "back-marker" status for the most part in the remaining 34 Nextel Cup events.

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2007 Driver Review: Carl Edwards

*2007 Ride:* No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford *2007 Primary Sponsor:* Office Depot *2007 Owner:* Jack Roush *2007 Crew Chief:* Bob Osborne *2007 Stats*: 36 races, 3 Wins, 11 Top 5s, 15 Top 10s, 1 pole, 9th in Points. *High Point*: Edwards' first win of the season at Michigan. After losing his cool and hitting the wall during Saturday night's Busch race in Kentucky, Edwards arrived at MIS in the wee hours of Sunday morning with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. However, his good friend and crew chief, Bob Osborne, sat the driver down and said to put the whole thing behind him. Edwards did just that - and not only did he bring his car to Victory Lane after a 52-race winless drought, he brought his hair clippers, too.

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In France’s World, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and His Fans Are To Blame

As longtime readers of this column have come to know, I hate "stupid." If someone in the world of NASCAR says or does something that is extremely stupid, I have no qualms whatsoever about pointing it out, no matter who they are or what position they may be in. Just ask my editors! (By the way, is that somewhat related to the fact I have yet to get my invitation to the Frontstretch.com Christmas party? But I digress...) Over the years, my pursuit to expose those that are stupid has led some readers to think that I hate NASCAR. People email me and say I should write about something else; or, that I do something I think is anatomically impossible - at least for me, anyway. At any rate, I assure you that that is _not_ the case. I love stock car racing - and if you are one of those that think otherwise, well, if you were worth a page of copy, I'd expose you, too!

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2007 Driver Review: Kyle Busch

*2007 Ride:* No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet *2007 Primary Sponsor:* Kellogg's *2007 Owner:* Rick Hendrick *2007 Crew Chief:* Alan Gustafson *Stats:* 36 Races, 1 Win, 11 Top 5s, 20 Top 10s, 637 laps led, 5th in points. *High Point*: Looking at his laps led total, it would seem that Busch might have won a bunch of races this season. In fact, he only won one, the Spring contest at Bristol after Jeff Burton chose not to nudge him out of the way en route to the checkered flag. That same weekend, Busch led 89 laps during the Busch Series event en route to a third place finish. Actually, early this season it seemed that Busch might win every race in both series - but it was not to be. His pit crew gave some wins away, Busch's erratic temperament cost him other wins, and in a few instances, he was just flat out outdriven.

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Mirror Driving: Banquet On The Move? Petty Movin’ On Up? And Teams Moving…To The Auction Block?

*It's official; George Gillett and Petty Enterprises will NOT merge operations. Critical mistake, or gutsy move by Petty to keep hope alive his team will once again be a powerhouse all its own?* Amy: It's the right move for Petty to preserve their historical identity. Vito: I don't blame them. It wasn't like GEM was setting the world on fire or anything - and Petty just pirated away another Hendrick luminary in Jeff Meendering. Level Cross to Mooresville is one thing; axing Petty Enterprises and the King's silhouette is quite another. Tony: I agree with Vito. They're getting everything they can with GEM engines already. Tom: I just think Gillett wants to control everything he touches. Not only that, but I honestly don't think Petty is in that bad a shape, either. Bobby Labonte didn't go anywhere, and he finished 18th in points rather quietly this season. Honestly, should Meendering and Labonte click, they're not all that far off from making the Chase. It's not as bad a situation as Yates was when they sold out to Roush.

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2007 Driver Review: Jeff Burton

*2007 Ride:* No. 31 AT&T Chevrolet *2007 Owner:* Richard Childress *2007 Crew Chief:* Scott Miller *Stats:* 36 races, 1 Win, 9 Top 5s, 18 Top 10s, 8th in points. *High Point:* Burton's six finishes of sixth or better through the season's first seven races kept him among the Top 3 in the point standings through the end of April. A runner-up finish at Bristol in the series' first Car of Tomorrow event — in a case where the chrome horn would have earned him a win and would have been viewed by many as "just racin'" — was a testament to Burton's class and sportsmanship.

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2007 Driver Review: Ward Burton

*2007 Ride*: No. 4 Morgan-McClure Chevrolet *2007 Sponsor*: State Water Heaters *2007 Owner*: Larry McClure *2007 Crew Chief*: Chris Carrier *Stats* : 16 Races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 0 Top 10s, 47th in points. *High Point* : After starting 40th in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, Burton came on strong, finishing on the lead lap in 14th position. It was a wise decision by the team to have their best run of the season at a track that pays well: Burton collected $161,125 for the Top 15 finish, nearly double the amount of his next highest payout. It was also the best finish for this single-car outfit in over two years.

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