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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.

Numbers Game: 2007 Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta

*1* Number of times Jimmie Johnson led the Pep Boys Auto 500 - laps 322 to 329. *2* Cars dropped to the rear of the field before the start of racing at Atlanta. (No. 7 - Robby Gordon and No. 17 - Matt Kenseth for engine changes) *3rd* Reed Sorenson's finishing position Sunday, the best of his 71-race Cup career. *3 hours, 44 minutes, 45 seconds* Time it took to complete the Pep Boys Auto 500.

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Ten Points to Ponder…After the 2007 Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta

*1. Hendrick's Half* - If you add up all the races that Hendrick Motorsports drivers have won this year - Jimmie Johnson's eight, Jeff Gordon's six, and one each for Kyle Busch and Casey Mears - you'll see that Hendrick drivers have won 16 of 33 races - just under half of the all the races this season. *2. Who Knew?* - Dale Earnhardt Jr., that's who. Junior knew that he had a loose wheel well before the green-white-checkered finish, telling his team on lap 324, "That d*mn wheel is loose as hell!" He asked for another driver to look and see if something was broken on the car's rear end, but Reed Sorenson relayed the message that verything looked okay. "Are you kidding?" shouted Junior. "It's driving itself like a forklift here! Do you see the car weaving? That's not me! It may be okay at speed. We'll find out in a second." And find out they did as he slammed the wall incredibly hard after the tire fell off. I don't think you can't hang this one on DEI.

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Bubble Breakdown: Bill Elliott Takes Advantage of Blaney’s Misfortune, Helps Wood Brothers With Top 35

There may have been little change in the Top 35 picture this week as far as positions go - but just 40 laps into the race at Atlanta, the gap between 35th and 36th narrowed substantially. With an eventual "locked in" spot for the first five races of 2008 on the line, engine problems struck Dave Blaney's No. 22 on lap 39, bringing out the race's second caution and moving Bill Elliott and the No. 21 team 56 points closer to the coveted bubble position. To see how close the No. 21 team is to Blaney, check out this week's edition of the Bubble Breakdown: *Engine woes narrow gap* What was once a single-digit margin week-in and week-out between the No. 21 and No. 22 teams a little over one month ago widened to 142 points last week when *Elliott* crashed at Martinsville. But the 1988 Cup Series champ cut back into that margin this week when *Blaney* lost power on a lap 39 restart and had to go to the garage. The No. 22 car did return to the race but finished 38th, 66 laps down, making them vulnerable to losing their locked in spot.

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Time Will Tell If Cousin Carl Lets Me Down

A couple of weeks ago, after my personal favorite Dale Jarrett announced he would be retiring from Cup competition following the Spring Bristol race in 2008, I transitioned into fan mode and penned a column explaining just why DJ was my favorite all these years - thanking him for being an all-around classy guy. Also in that column, I mentioned that a few years ago I had selected another driver to step up as a new favorite when DJ hung up his racing helmet. That man is Carl Edwards. My selection of Carl was never based on anything he had done, at least to that point, in Cup competition, but rather the way he raced and conducted himself when he was still in the Craftsman Truck Series. I saw then that he was a great young racer with many successful years ahead of him; I have often said since, in print and in person, that time would prove Carl to be just as classy a guy as Dale Jarrett. Up until last Sunday, I've never had any real reason to doubt that.

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I’m Just Sayin’…NASCAR Stuff We Can’t Make Up

Instead of her usual weekly racing review, Senior Staff Writer Becca Gladden has scoured the NASCAR front to bring you the week's curious, offbeat, and just plain wacky news from the intriguing world of big-time stock car racing. Trust us, these stories are all true - we just couldn't make this stuff up! *Racing On Heels*: What will the well-dressed fashion maven be wearing at the track this year? A pair of NASCAR ladies' pumps, of course! As described at the NASCAR.com Superstore, "The black and white checkered pony hair pumps are made of imported Italian metallic patent leather, and feature signature tire tread flexible molded soles with the 4 color NASCAR logo. The pumps have a 3" heel with racing flags and soft padding for long-lasting comfort." Price? Just $99.99 a pair plus shipping. *Mystery Solved*: Who commissioned a small airplane to tow a banner over Lowe's Motor Speedway prior to the October 13th Charlotte Cup race - a banner which read, "How Much Does Bobby Ginn Owe You?" According to authorities, it was three DEI workers, upset that the former owner of Ginn Racing - which merged with DEI earlier this season - allegedly owes back pay to past employees. Unfortunately, the three are now out of a job at DEI as well after being fired for the airplane stunt.

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Fanning the Flames: Talkin’ Safety, Driver Shuffles, And Engine Troubles

*Q: Hi Matt. I seem to remember that some drivers were hesitant to the idea of NASCAR mandating that they wear a HANS device in the wake of Dale Earnhardt's death. Since then, the drivers seem to have become more accepting of it, as I can't remember the last time I heard a complaint (via the media of course). Has the HANS device simply become an accepted part of the safety innovations of the last few years to the point that the drivers view it as just "part of the uniform?" And can you tell me exactly how it works? Thanks.* _— Patty Bouvier_ *A:* First off, few were adamantly opposed to the device after the loss of Dale Earnhardt. Yes, some complained, but quickly got over it once NASCAR dropped the hammer and said, "Wear it or else." And you won't hear anyone complaining after watching Jeff Gordon walk away from a nasty spill in Turn 1 at Pocono last season, or Brad Keselowski's Busch Series crash at California this September. In fact, the HANS device has become a standard piece of safety equipment in most forms of motorsports throughout the world.

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Dale Earnhardt, Jr. And DEI: Just Going Through The Motions

This Monday at Atlanta, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will officially test a No. 88 Chevrolet with Hendrick Motorsports for the first time. That in-season move is just the latest in a transition that appears to be accelerating a bit faster than initially anticipated. Out of the Chase and out of the running for anything higher than 13th in the final point standings, it's clear that Junior's focus is quickly turning ahead towards 2008. There's just one problem with that: he still has a job to do for the rest of 2007 - and so does DEI. What has transpired since the start of the 10-race Chase for the Nextel Cup by the No. 8 Budweiser team is nothing short of a half-hearted commitment to performance. And no, this is not all about the string of engine failures, common knowledge as to what's supposed to be their continual Achilles Heel. Instead, this is about a team that has packed it in, content to collect sponsorship fees, paychecks, and simply move forward to make preparations for next season - with little to no regard for what happens now.

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Mirror Driving: Hating A Johnson-Gordon Chase, Why Carl Edwards’ Behavior Was Off Base, And Grading The CoT

*Statistically, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson have combined to win 41 races over the last four seasons - making them the two best drivers on the circuit in that category. Just 53 points separate them with four races left, setting up what should be a dramatic finish to the title - but fan reaction has ranged from plain disinterest to downright detesting this battle. Why?* Amy: Because they aren't named "Dale Earnhardt, Jr." Mike: It is just not interesting when it is two drivers from the same organization. Now if they piss each other off and legitimately start hating on each other, then you'll have interest. Tony: It's also between two drivers who have traditionally been disliked. If it was between Edwards and say, Jeff Burton, things are different.

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Numbers Game: 2007 Subway 500 at Martinsville

*3* Consecutive Martinsville wins for Jimmie Johnson, a feat also accomplished by Rusty Wallace, Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, and Richard Petty. Next Spring, Johnson will have the opportunity to make it four in a row which would tie the record held by Fred Lorenzen. *3 hours, 59 minutes, 45 seconds* Time it took to complete the Subway 500. *4* Number of times Jimmie Johnson led the Subway 500.

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