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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.

Fanning the Flames: Go For The Jugular, Or Play It Safe?

*Q: Will Gene Haas' sentencing have any effect at all on his (Haas CNC Racing) team?* _— Allen McCarty_ *A:* Apparently not, Allen. The team has been operating with the knowledge that Haas could face serious slammer time since he pled guilty to tax fraud in August. Race team general manager Joe Custer will continue the day-to-day oversight of the race team while Hass is gone. Seems to me the bigger problem the company has is that it employed two new drivers in Jeremy Mayfield and Scott Riggs while losing two sponsors in Best Buy and Yellow Transportation. At least they are in the Top 35 in owner points, which will guarantee their participation in the first five races of 2008. So they have that going for them ... which is nice.

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Brian France: Is He Stupid or Does He Not Understand The Word Contract?

con•tract - kuh n-trakt - _verb_ to become drawn together or reduced in compass; become smaller; shrink In February, NASCAR CEO Brian France, on the subject of lower television ratings, said: "My view on television ratings, I mean, we look at them a little bit longer cycle or window than maybe you would think we would. TV ratings, depending on storylines, other competing things that are going around, are going to go down and up a little bit. We don't get too hung up on it. We went down a little bit. My expectation is we'll be up in TV ratings in '07 for the all the reasons I mentioned in my opening remarks, all the momentum we have that we didn't have last year." OK, Brian; let's see how your expectations panned out compared to 2006. (And remember, 2006 ratings were down overall from 2005.) Percentages were provided if available...

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Mirror Driving: Jeff Gordon No Longer Number One? Is Parity In NASCAR Done? And Truck Series Fun…

*Jimmie Johnson's remarkable achievement of four wins in a row gave him double-digit victories for the first time since 1998, when teammate Jeff Gordon dominated the sport. Should Johnson continue on and win his second straight title, is it fair to say the No. 1 driver in the Hendrick stable is now him - not Gordon?* Mike: No. Gordon has done it for years, and has earned that distinction. When Johnson gets to 80 wins, if Gordon is still around, then you can have that debate. Amy: Jeff will be number one as long as he wants to be. That said, I think that of all the organizations, HMS operates the least around that theory, anyway. Tony: I think it's just like Mark Martin with Roush; he was always their number one driver, even when he wasn't bringing in the most wins. The same can be said for Gordon.

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Johnny Benson Didn’t Get The Memo

I learned something about Johnny Benson this week. It seems the guy is quickly becoming a dinosaur, obsolete within a sport that is evolving in a direction he is neither able or willing to keep up with. Thank goodness he's still here. Apparently, the veteran Truck Series driver is not up to speed with what can only be titled the "new" NASCAR. That is, a NASCAR that endorses "team racing" as a legitimate and increasingly integral part of its sanctioned racing events. This became evident last Friday night during the running of the Craftsman Truck Series Casino Arizona 150 at Phoenix International Raceway, when Benson passed his Bill Davis Racing teammate Mike Skinner to better his finishing position. The supposed problem with that? Skinner is a championship contender, running neck-and-neck with Ron Hornaday, Jr. for a title in which every point will make a difference. That Benson would have the audacity to pass a competitor in such a race stirred astonishment within the SPEED TV broadcasting booth, as well as obvious displeasure from his teammate. And that, in turn, stirred displeasure from me.

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Top Ten NASCAR Headlines You Won’t Be Seeing Anytime Soon

10. *Jeff Gordon Rethinking Hiring Practices* _Wait - on second thought, that one isn't so farfetched ..._ 9. *Kenseth, Edwards To Open Boxing School* 8. *Dale Junior On 2008: Just Because There Won't Be Bud ON The Car, Doesn't Mean There Won't Be Bud IN The Car!* 7. *Johnson to Sit Out Homestead: Says After All Jeff Has Done For Him, He Deserves It More* 6. *Brian France Leaves NASCAR To Open Driving School*

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Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in the Chase: 2007 Checker Auto Parts 500k at Phoenix Edition

As the song by Herman's Hermits says, "second verse, same as the first." Well, in this case, the third and fourth verse are the same, too. Jimmie Johnson continued to make the Chase a bore by scoring his fourth straight win in Sunday's Checker Auto Parts 500K, extending his lead to 86 over Jeff Gordon with just one race remaining on the schedule. But even with this second championship seemingly in hand, Johnson still has to survive at Homestead before he gets his hands on the big check. And while all eyes will firmly be on Johnson and Gordon, there are other drivers in the Chase peaking late in the season who are looking to end the year with a win. So which drivers are actually looking forward to racing 400 miles on Sunday and which ones simply see it as 267 laps to run before taking off for vacation? Read this week's Who's Hot and Who's Not in the Chase to find out.

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Numbers Game: 2007 Checker Auto Parts 500K at Phoenix

*0.870* Jimmie Johnson's margin of victory over Greg Biffle in the Checker Auto Parts 500K. (in seconds) *1* Car dropped to the rear of the field before the start of racing at Phoenix. (No. 83 - Brian Vickers for an engine change) *1st* Bud Pole of 2007 for Carl Edwards after taking the top starting spot in Phoenix, with a speed of 132.773 mph. *2* Number of times Jimmie Johnson led the Checker Auto Parts 500K.

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One Point To Ponder…Jimmie Johnson’s Dominance

Sunday's sold-out Checker Auto Parts 500 in Phoenix had all the makings of high drama. Instead, it became a NASCAR rerun. For the fourth straight week, Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe's team crushed the competition, turning whatever problems came their way into opportunities to win another race and, it now appears, another championship. Ironically, Johnson is the first driver to put together a four-race win streak since Jeff Gordon - the teammate he's currently beating out for the title - back in 1998. That year, Gordon earned his second consecutive championship (his third overall), claiming the Cup in 1997 and again in '98. Now, almost 10 years later, Gordon's apprentice-turned-adversary is poised to do the same.

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Kyle Petty Locked In For First 5 Races of 2008; Dave Blaney One Week Away

Homestead was supposed to be the race that not only decided a razor-thin Chase battle, but a Top 35 trio ready to pull out all the stops to ensure a "locked-in" spot for 2008. Now, it seems as if both competitions will turn out to be anti-climactic. With an 86-point lead, Johnson needs merely a midpack finish to clinch his second straight title; along those same lines, Dave Blaney and the No. 22 may merely need to come home in one piece to get the job done. With the BDR Camry leading the Wood Brothers No. 21 for the final locked in spot for 2008, in addition to Jimmie Johnson's dominance over the rest of the Chase contenders in the past month. Phoenix was a bad week for each of the drivers within range of moving in or falling out of the Top 35, but while all of the bubble contenders finished worse than 25th, it was enough for one driver to ensure a starting spot for the first five races of next season. To see who's locked in, who's locked out, and who may have a shot to crack the Top 35 heading to Homestead, check out this week's edition of the Bubble Breakdown...

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The Kyle Busch You Don’t Know

Abrasive. Argumentative. Arrogant. Ask a NASCAR fan to describe Nextel Cup driver Kyle Busch and those are some of the adjectives you might hear. When Kyle entered the Cup series full time, many fans painted him with the same broad brush as older brother Kurt, who perhaps had done more to earn those epithets in the early years of his career than Kyle did. And it didn't help that Kyle was driving for Hendrick Motorsports, making him a teammate of Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson - two drivers that many fans already loved to hate. But there are many positive attributes that should come to mind when you hear the name Kyle Busch - among them: Accomplished.

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