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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.

2008 Driver Review: Bill Elliott

*2008 Ride:* No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford *2008 Sponsors:* Motorcraft, Little Debbie, U.S. Air Force *2008 Owner:* Glen Wood *2008 Crew Chief:* Gene Nead (Feb. - March) Mike Smith (March - July) David Hyder (August - November) *Stats:* 20 Races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 0 Top 10s, 39th in points. *Best Finish:* 12th -- Homestead-Miami. *High Point:* Elliott achieved two high points in 2008. The first was his 16th place finish in the October Martinsville race. Despite finishing a lap down, a Top 20 during the Chase is hardly a bad achievement for a part-time driver on a struggling single-car team. Making Elliott's finish even more impressive was the fact that he started 43rd, shotgun on the field at a track that's incredibly difficult to pass on.

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2008 Driver Review: David Gilliland

*2008 Ride:* No. 38 Yates Racing Ford *2008 Primary Sponsor:* FreeCreditReport.com, Ford Drive One, CitiFinancial, FCC, AFLAC Cancer Center, Dish Network *2008 Owner:* Doug Yates / Max Jones *2008 Crew Chief*: Cully Barraclough *Stats*: 36 Races, 0 Wins, 1 Top 5, 2 Top 10s, 0 Poles, 9 DNFs, 27th in points. *Best Finish:* 2nd -- Infineon. *High Point:* Obviously, the second place finish on the northern California road course in Sonoma, when Gilliland was 1.716 seconds behind Kyle Busch at the checkered flag for a career-best performance.

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2008 Driver Review: Patrick Carpentier

*2008 Ride:* No. 10 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge *2008 Primary Sponsors:* Valvoline, LifeLock, Charter Communications, Auto Value / Bumper-to-Bumper, Cintas, Berlin City, Sears, Tow Truck in a Box *2008 Owner:* George N. Gillett, Jr. and Ray Evernham *2008 Crew Chief:* Mike Shiplett *Stats:* 24 Races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 0 Top 10s, 1 Pole, 5 DNQs, 38th in points. *Best Finish:* 14th -- Daytona, Coke Zero 400. *High Point:* Sporting the locally recognized sponsor "Berlin City Auto Group," the native Canadian earned the pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Lenox Tools 301 in June before a crowd that heralds the beginning of each race with a rousing rendition of "O, Canada!"

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Mirror Driving: Mourning The Pettys, Moving The Banquet, And Putting Off The Nationwide CoT

*Petty Enterprises will reportedly merge with Gillett-Evernham Motorsports by the end of the year, effectively ending their run in NASCAR. Meanwhile, the Wood Brothers are dropping to a 12-race schedule in 2009. What does losing these teams mean to the sport -or is it an inevitable part of its continued evolution?* Amy: I think it's really, really sad to see the last of the sport's heritage go away. Mike: Having the Wood Brothers go back to a part-time schedule is more of a throwback to the old days. They didn't used to run full schedules. On the other hand, losing Petty is enormous. I realize they have sucked in the last decade, but they are an institution and losing them is big.

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2008 Driver Review: Dave Blaney

*2008 Ride:* No. 22 Bill Davis Racing Toyota *2008 Primary Sponsor:* Caterpillar / Bad Boy Mowers *2008 Owner:* Bill Davis *2008 Crew Chief:* Tommy Baldwin *Stats:* 35 Races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 2 Top 10s, 7 DNFs, 30th in points. *Best Finish:* 9th -- Darlington, Dover (June). *High Point:* Dave Blaney's run at Darlington was impressive. He started the race in the 13th position and kept his car in the Top 15 all night long. With great pit work by the No. 22 crew, Blaney brought home BDR's first Top 10 of the season. His ninth place finish propelled the team back into the Top 35 and a guaranteed starting spot in the prestigious Coca-Cola 600.

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2008 Driver Review: A.J. Allmendinger

*Stats*: 32 Races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 2 Top 10s, 0 Poles, 36th in points. *Best Finish*: 9th -- Kansas. *High Point:* In a roller coaster season for A.J. Allmendinger, one could make an argument for several different highs. There was the tenth place finish at the Brickyard in July -- but that race will be forever remembered as the Goodyear tire debacle that no one is really proud of or wants to remember. Then, there was his career best finish of ninth at Kansas; but that was bittersweet, as it was his final race for Team Red Bull after being released in favor of Scott Speed.

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2008 Driver Review: Matt Kenseth

*2008 Ride*: No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford *2008 Primary Sponsor*: DeWalt *2008 Owner*: John Henry / Jack Roush *2008 Crew Chief*: Chip Bolin *Stats*: 36 Races, 0 Wins, 9 Top 5s, 20 Top 10s, 11th in points. *High Point:* After a disappointing start to the season in which Kenseth dropped to 22nd in points after the first ten races, he and the No. 17 team rallied with eight Top 10s in the next nine events. Prior to the impressive stretch, several critics wrote the Wisconsin driver off as a Chase contender; but two months later, Kenseth showed up at the Brickyard the end of July sitting eighth in the season standings. The team rode that momentum to a Chase berth, where they ultimately finished 11th in points.

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2008 Driver Review: Greg Biffle

*2008 Ride:* No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford *2008 Sponsors:* 3M, DISH Network *2008 Owner:* Jack Roush/John Henry (Fenway Sports Marketing Group) *2008 Crew Chief:* Greg Erwin *Stats:* 36 Races, 2 Wins, 12 Top 5s, 17 Top 10s, 3rd in points. *High Point:* Following a roller coaster of a 26-race regular season, Biffle came out swinging when the Chase began. His Roush Fenway team posted back-to-back victories (New Hampshire and Dover) to open the playoffs, and followed those runs with a third at Kansas. Just like that, one of the five Chase drivers who had failed to win a race in the regular season put the field — most notably title favorites Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson — on alert that this was anything but a two-man battle for the ’08 crown.

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2008 Driver Review: Clint Bowyer

*2008 Ride*: No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet *2008 Primary Sponsor*: Jack Daniel’s *2008 Owner*: Richard Childress *2008 Crew Chief*: Gil Martin *Stats*: 36 Races, 1 Win, 7 Top 5s, 17 Top 10s, 5th in points. *High Point*: It was another impressive season for the young Kansas native, who burst onto the scene with a 3rd place points finish in 2007. His 2008 campaign on the Cup side was nearly as successful, finishing 5th in the final standings, but the high point of Bowyer’s season undoubtedly came at Homestead, where he won the Nationwide Series driver’s title by a mere 21 points over 2007 champion Carl Edwards.

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2008 Driver Review: Jeff Gordon

*2008 Ride:* No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet *2008 Primary Sponsors:* DuPont, Nicorette *2008 Owner:* Rick Hendrick *2008 Crew Chief:* Steve Letarte *Stats:* 36 Races, 0 Wins, 13 Top 5s, 19 Top 10s, 4 Poles, 7th in points. *High Point:* It would be difficult to find a high point in the first winless season since 1993 for the four time champ; but if you had to pick, it would probably be a second place finish at Texas Motor Speedway. One of two tracks on the Cup circuit where Gordon has never visited Victory Lane, he pulled off a strong performance on fuel mileage after a dismal showing in the April race there. Combine that with other strong runs towards the end of the season, when -- after all the dust had cleared -- the No. 24 team had climbed to seventh in the standings. That's hardly an awful season by anyone's standards, and only slightly under par for a team that is a threat to win it all every year.

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