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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.

David Starr Driver Diary: Going to Graceland

After struggling through growing pains for the first several races so far this season, I finally feel like we are making huge gains. You want to be competitive right off the bat, but the Craftsman Truck Series is so tough that it makes it hard for a new team like the International MaxxForce Diesel team. So while the season hasn't been going the way we had hoped, I feel like we really started turning it around back in Mansfield.

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TNT “F Bomb” Squad Snips Wrong Wire!

The explosion of an "F bomb" at last Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 in Sonoma, CA is a prime example of what seemed like a brilliant idea at the time go horribly awry. The idea was to have Kyle Petty be part of the race broadcast team, not from the booth, but actually while he competed in the race itself. Brilliant! So far, so good. This could be really cool. However, not long into the broadcast, a few problems began to manifest themselves. Initially, due to some technical gremlins, booth announcers Wally Dallenbach and Bill Weber were having some difficulty establishing contact with racer / analyst Petty. At one point, once contact was made, they broke in and surprised Kyle while he was leading the team in a pre-race prayer. Oops! But after the initial awkwardness, breaking in on the team prayer could seem like a great thing as far as ratings go.

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Fanning the Flames: A Confused Writer Has A Question Of His Own For NASCAR

Before we get going with your questions this week, I have a question of my own: *Q:* Dear NASCAR — How does Kurt Busch slam into Tony Stewart's car while on pit road, almost hitting Stewart's jackman in the process, only to walk away with the new standard of a 100-point docking and a $100,000 fine. Meanwhile, Ted Musgrave gives Kelly Bires a pop after a wreck at Milwaukee — while still on the track, mind you, no crewmen anywhere close — and gets docked 50 owner and driver points, 10 G's, _and gets suspended for a race?_ See NASCAR, I'm a little miffed because we, both the media and the fans, spent an entire week arguing whether Kurt should get the ol' heave-ho. Hell, I was even on _your_ side in the matter! Anyway, Kurt — and more importantly Miller Lite — got off without a suspension. If that's the way it is, fine, we accept your ruling. However, two weeks later Musgrave does _half_ of what Kurt did and he's sent packing?! Is this because Kurt is a star in the Cup Series and Musgrave is "only" a Truck Series participant? Please tell me the difference, NASCAR, because for the life of me I can't figure out why you'd throw fuel on the fire of rules (in)consistency.

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Frontstretch Folio: 2007 UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 at Las Vegas

The Nextel Cup Series heads to "Sin City" this weekend to test their luck at the newly renovated Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 is the third race of the 2007 Nextel Cup season and will be broadcast live on Sunday, March 11th at 4:30 pm ET on Fox, with radio coverage by PRN affiliates nationwide. Competitors will make 267 circuits for 400.5 miles around the mile-and-a-half oval in their quest for the checkered flag.

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Top Ten Items Confiscated by Border Patrol When NASCAR “Invaded” Mexico

10. A fuel sample from the No. 99 car of David Reutimann...you never know what the MWR team is hiding in there. 9. 50 gallons of "authentic Mexican water" from the Roush Fenway teams, marked "A gift for Hendrick Motorsports' water cooler." 8. A case of black market Juan Pablo Montoya voodoo dolls from the No. 41 hauler. 7. The entire No. 7 GEICO Chevrolet transporter. Apparently, it's illegal to take reptiles into another country without a lengthy quarantine. 6. Cardboard standup of Scott Wimmer. They questioned it for 20 minutes before realizing it wasn't Wimmer, since the personalities were strikingly similar.

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Mirror Driving: Pebble On The Track…Throw The Yellow Flag! And Is It All Montoya’s Fault, After All?

*After all the controversy on Sunday, how much of a boost does this Busch Series win give Juan Pablo Montoya over in Nextel Cup?* Amy: Not much...the competition in Cup is MUCH tougher. Especially since a lot of the big guns in Busch don't go to that race, so there was a lot of inexperience in that field. Not saying that's a bad thing, but it does make his win less meaningful than if it was at, say Charlotte, with a tougher field. Toni: I agree. It's a Busch road course win…everyone expected him to do well on a road course. And in Busch he has superior equipment - in Cup Ganassi is not so high up the ladder. Tom: I agree with Amy…that field was so depleted. Like I said in my article "Monday":/tbowles/7316/, it's like beating a crappy team and then trying to plead your case to get into the NCAA tournament. A win is a win, but it's not a quality win by any means.

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Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

As we've all seen over the past month, criticizing NASCAR for their infinite number of blunders and incidents of poor judgment is really not that difficult; but it's not exactly fun to do, either. Believe me, it's not my intention to relentlessly harp on the organization; as it is, by Wednesdays I usually find myself standing at the back of a long line of writers that have already beat the proverbial "dog" of controversial topics to death. Thankfully, the sanctioning body has done something right for once involving one such controversy this week, so much so that I can actually partake in a far better exercise; sending _compliments_ NASCAR's way. Yes, the sport should be given credit where credit is due; three cheers, in fact, for what appears to be a decision to reevaluate their flawed Car of Tomorrow (CoT) introduction schedule.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not In Nextel Cup: 2007 Off-Week No. 1 Edition

*Hot* *Clint Bowyer:* Had it not been for his last lap ride through the grass at Daytona, Bowyer would likely be heading to Vegas with two Top 10 finishes in hand. As things stand, the second year RCR driver is still sixth in the standings following a sixth place finish at Fontana; so much for an early season sophomore slump that seemed inevitable after his Daytona flip. Driving for a team that seems to be hitting on all cylinders right now should only continue to help Bowyer as he makes his way through the rest of the early season; at Vegas last year, he finished 15th, and given the way he is running, I wouldn't be surprised to see him match or exceed that this time around. *Jeff Burton:* He may not have the spectacular early season highlight reel or victory that his teammates have, but Burton has something they don't; two Top 5 finishes to kick off the 2007 season. Only Mark Martin, the driver Burton trails in the standings by just five points, can say the same thing. But one thing we can say about Burton we _can't_ say about Martin is that we know he is going to run the full schedule. It's been a long, difficult road but it's now safe to say that RCR is back as one of the top caliber teams in the sport each week, which many partially credit Burton's leadership for. Things should only get better this weekend, as Burton is a two-time Vegas winner and was seventh there last year.

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Beyond the Cockpit: Bobby Labonte at Phoenix

*Q: What did you think about the controversy at the end of the race with NASCAR not throwing the caution?* *A:* I don't care what they do as long as they do the same thing every time. *Q: But some people feel that's the problem - they don't stay consistent.* *A:* They never do. Trash on the track, there's a caution - a tire's on the track, there's no caution. There's no rhyme or reason to it. There's no consistency. That's all I care about. I don't care if we race back to the flag or don't race back to the flag, or this or that, just as long as it's the same.

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Too Early To Worry? Not Necessarily

I love studying the point standings at the beginning of the season. The first five or six races are intriguing in that unheralded drivers often float to the top of the rankings by running steady — not necessarily great — and avoiding early pitfalls that can start a team in the hole, if not derail their season completely. After only two races in the 2007 Nextel Cup campaign, I find myself amused already. Who would have thought Mark Martin, in a part-time role no less, would be leading the standings and having to wrestle — whether he'll admit it or not — with the thought (once again) of doing an about face and seeing this season through? Come to think of it, who would have believed the No. 01 US Army Chevy would have been the vehicle in which Martin would ride to consecutive Top 5 finishes to start the year? At the opposite end of the age spectrum, we have 21-year-old David Ragan as the year's early rookie surprise. This youngster was rushed through the system and thrown into Martin's old No. 6 ride at Roush Fenway Racing. After hitting everything on the track in two events last season, the young man has amazed by keeping his nose clean en route to 5th and 16th-place runs. By simply not screwing up, Ragan finds himself fifth in the point standings.

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