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.

2009 Season Preview: Can Anyone Keep Jimmie Johnson From Making History?

Today's Season Preview Topic: Jimmie Johnson is attempting to do something that’s never been done in the history of NASCAR: four straight championships. What will they need to do to get over the hump – and is it possible? Tom Bowles, Editor-In-Chief: "(Mondays / Bowles-Eye View)":https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/359/ No question about it: Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus have the Chase mastered like no other. Forget three championships; with just a little more luck, they could have easily won all _five_ of the title trophies handed out under this new format. But here's the key to that paragraph I just wrote: racing luck. There's no doubt that with the talent on the No. 48 team, they'll clearly be not just a postseason participant but one of the top seeds to contend with once the 2009 Chase begins.

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Five Points to Ponder: 2009 Preview Edition

NASCAR's top national series hits the track this week -- which means that finally, _finally_ fans will be able to hear more about on track news and the upcoming year rather than an offseason full of layoffs, mergers, and utter confusion. Instead, when the green flag waves next weekend for the Budweiser Shootout -- and again on February 15th -- the sport's basic concept will return, remaining the same as it always has...race to the checkered flag. And so it will go on through November. As bad as the economy may get and as much as it may cripple the sport we love, for four hours every Sunday afternoon drivers will drive, crew chiefs will lead their crews, and fans will enjoy their favorite form of entertainment.

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2009 Season Preview: Will The Big Four Be Stopped?

Amy Henderson, Assistant Editor: "(Fridays / Holding A Pretty Wheel)":https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/351/ It’s unlikely that anyone is going to break the stranglehold the Big Four have on the Chase, especially under the testing ban. It’s possible that Stewart-Haas or Richard Petty Motorsports could squeak a car in apiece -- likely Tony Stewart or Kasey Kahne -- but even Stewart, in his first year with a team that is rebuilding from an underfunded shambles, is unlikely to make a serious run for the Cup come Homestead. The Big Four have David Ragan already knocking on the Chase door as it is. Mark Martin will contend, and Richard Childress could put Casey Mears in position as well -- which means they could well be knocking just their own teammates out of the way for those positions come Fall.

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2009 Season Preview: Will Mark Martin Be A Contender?

Today's Season Preview Topic: At 50 years old, Mark Martin is attempting the unthinkable: a return to full-time racing in the Cup Series. With good equipment underneath him (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets), is he capable of putting together a run at the Chase (and if he gets there, the championship)? Or is it too little, too late for this sport’s version of Dan Marino? Tom Bowles, Editor-In-Chief: "(Mondays / Bowles-Eye View)":https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/359/ No question about it, Mark Martin can still get the job done. New fans don't remember this stuff, but men like Harry Gant and Morgan Shepherd (yes, _that_ Morgan Shepherd) were wheeling cars into the Winner's Circle at 51, 52 years old in the 1990s. But visiting Victory Lane is one thing (which I guarantee Mark will do this year); winning the championship is a whole other matter altogether.

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Mirror Driving: Ownership Smoke And Mirrors, Smoke’s Fiery New Team, And Logano’s No Smoke … Yet

*NASCAR has claimed 15 new owners applied for licenses in the month of January. Is this a bunch of hot air, or are we going to see a higher-than-expected car count at the Daytona 500… and beyond? More importantly, can these small time owners stand a chance against the four-car behemoths of Roush, Hendrick, etc.?* Doug: No, they can't. Tommy Baldwin, Black Jack, Phoenix, Boris Said, NEMCO, and Schelmerdine will not come close. No sponsor and no foundation means no success. These small teams will drop like flies. I don't see the unsponsored operations coming to every track on their own bill. Bryan: But we're going to see 50-plus cars at the 500 because the promise of a $250k payday will be enough, as always, to lure a lot of team owners to Speedweeks. After that, though, the count will drop sharply.

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2009 Season Preview: Should NASCAR Fix The Car of Tomorrow?

Today's Season Preview Topic: After an up-and-down first full season with the Car of Tomorrow, NASCAR implemented no changes to the design over the offseason. Will that result in better racing in 2009 as teams get a handle on the new car, or will no testing lead to necessary midseason changes to increase the quality of racing? Toni Montgomery, Senior Editor "(Fridays / Rick Crawford Driver Diary)":https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/360/ Here's an idea: stop trying to play with the quality of racing -- thereby making the cars a moving target -- and just let the teams get used to them and figure them out. Every time NASCAR does things to improve the quality of the racing, it seems to go in exactly the opposite direction. How about letting the teams try to make those improvements for awhile?

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2009 Season Preview: Can Joey Logano Succeed?

Today's Season Preview Topic: Some observers have already anointed 18-year-old Joey Logano as the next great driver on the NASCAR circuit. But last season, he struggled mightily in a handful of Cup starts for Hall of Fame Racing. Is this kid capable of taking the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota back to the front ... or is he the second coming of Casey Atwood? Tom Bowles, Editor-In-Chief "(Mondays / Bowles-Eye View)":https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/359/ I have to admit, when it comes to Joey Logano I'm just a little bit biased. You see, it's not often my home state gets some love for anything other than casinos and ESPN, so underneath that whole objectivity thing there's a whole fan club in my heart hoping the next best thing in NASCAR grew up just 25 minutes away from where I dreamed of racing as a kid.

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2009 Season Preview: How Can NASCAR Survive The Economic Crisis?

Today's Season Preview Topic: With the economic crisis front and center these days, all three of NASCAR’s top three series are struggling to fill the fields. What should the sanctioning body do to cut costs and get both teams on the track and fans in the stands … or have they already done enough? Tom Bowles, Editor-In-Chief "(Mondays / Bowles-Eye View)":https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/359/ NASCAR made a great choice to eliminate testing, but the whole thing means diddly squat if the big money teams don't play along. Teams like Hendrick continue to test at non-sanctioned tracks in order to gain an advantage -- and as long as that extra track time _does_ give them a leg up on everyone else, the gap between the haves and have nots will keep growing ... and growing ... to the point that even the Energizer bunny won't be able to catch up to them.

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2008 Driver Review: Michael Waltrip

*2008 Ride:* No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Holdings, LLC *2008 Primary Sponsor:* NAPA Auto Parts *2008 Owner:* Michael Waltrip *2008 Crew Chiefs:* Paul Andrews (Feb. - Mar.) Bobby Kennedy (Mar. - Nov.) *Stats:* 36 races, 0 wins, 1 top 5, 2 top 10s, 0 poles, 29th in points. *Best Finish:* 2nd (Loudon - June). *High Point:* Leaving the season finale at Homestead-Miami having competed in the entire 36-race Sprint Cup schedule of events no doubt gave Waltrip and the No. 55 crew both great satisfaction and a sense of progress.

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2008 Driver Review: J.J. Yeley

*2008 Ride:* No. 96 Hall of Fame Racing Toyota *2008 Primary Sponsor:* Texas Instruments / DLP HDTV *2008 Owners:* Jeff Moorad and Tom Garfinkel *2008 Crew Chiefs:* Brandon Thomas (Feb. - Mar.) Steve Boyer (Mar. - until Yeley's release) *Stats:* 21 races, 0 wins, 1 top 5, 1 top 10, 0 poles, 41st in points. *Best Finish:* 3rd (Loudon - June). *High Point:* Playing a chess game with Mother Nature, the No. 96 team chose to gamble on their gas mileage during the Lenox Tools Industrial 301.

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