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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.

Mirror Driving: Could Dale Jr. Still Make The Chase, Will Open Wheelers Ever Dominate A Cup Race, And Did AT&T Get Put In Its Place?

*In the midst of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. overkill, the 12-car Chase field was set in stone on Saturday night. Looking at the final list of contenders, are there any surprises you see on that list? Anyone you think doesn't deserve to be running for the title, and if so, who would you replace him with?* Amy: Wait...you mean there were other drivers in that race? Really? Vito: Yeah. And 5th-12th do _not_ deserve to be there. In the new system, everybody pretty much is a wildcard. Amy: I agree with Vito. Tom: Eh, I think that everyone earned their right to be in this thing based on the system NASCAR has. That having been said, for all intents and purposes Jeff Gordon would have won the title this season. No question.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in the Chase: 2007 Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond Edition

Now that Dale Earnhardt Jr. watch is over, the focus over the last ten races of the year will be on the twelve drivers making a run for the Nextel Cup Championship. With his second straight victory, Jimmie Johnson put the competition on notice that they will have to take on the No. 48 team to take the trophy that they earned last season. But with six of the Chase drivers finishing in the Top 10 at Richmond, they are proving to be up to the challenge. So who left Richmond riding high and ready for battle and which drivers walked away wishing they had a little more time to prepare? Read this week's Who's Hot and Who's Not in the Chase for the Championship. *Hot* *Jimmie Johnson:* After a summertime slump that saw him go 15 races without a win, Johnson has flipped the switch and heads into the Chase as the top seeded driver with six wins; including back to back victories at Fontana and Richmond. The change came after he posted two straight DNF's at Chicago and Indy when he dropped to ninth in the standings. He went on a roll with three straight Top 5s before a mediocre finish at Bristol and followed it up with his two most recent wins. This hot pace will be hard to keep up as the Chase battle brews, but the No. 48 team is serving notice that they will be a force to be reckoned with as they go for two championships in a row.

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Numbers Game: 2007 Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond

*2nd* Career Cup victory and third Top 10 finish at Richmond International Raceway for Chevy Rock & Roll 400 winner Jimmie Johnson. *3* Number of times Jimmie Johnson led the Chevy Rock & Roll 400. *3rd* David Ragan's finishing position in the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 - - his career best -- earning him Rookie of the Race honors for the 11th time this season.

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Ten Points to Ponder…After the 2007 Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond

*1. The Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 400* - Oh, you mean that wasn't the name of Saturday night's race? Could have fooled me. Earnhardt's odds of making the Chase were ridiculously slim going into Richmond, making ESPN/ABC's singular focus on him both ridiculous and _way_ over the top. *2. Abracadabra* - And presto, chango. Wave the magic Chase wand and watch Jeff Gordon's 410-point lead over Jimmie Johnson change into a 20-point deficit, just like that. Think that was a big change? Kurt Busch went from 11th place and 657 points to fifth place and 40 points out in one night. Now, we will have to spend the rest of the season listening to NASCAR boast about how "close" the competition is for the title. Am I the only one still bothered by this contrivance?

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Career Run Gives Johnny Sauter Breathing Room In Top 35 Battle

One week ago, Johnny Sauter was headed straight towards the edge of a cliff. After withstanding the pressure of being on the "bubble" with Haas CNC's No. 70 for most of this season, Sauter set the pressure cooker on high by struggling to 30th in Fontana. That disappointing finish dropped the No. 70 into a tie for 34th in car owner points, just 52 ahead of the 35th and final locked in spot and in serious danger of falling out altogether. It was the closest Sauter had been in quite sometime to losing the team's automatic exemption, and with seven consecutive runs outside the Top 20, it was clear that both he and his crew needed a spark. Saturday night, the match was lit.

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Leilani Munter Makes Short Work of Steep Learning Curve

When racecar driver Leilani Munter made the move from stock cars to Indy cars a few months ago, she expected to face her share of challenges. Attacking the new opportunity with characteristic enthusiasm and intelligence, Munter has proven herself a quick study with great racing instincts. Leilani had an impressive debut last month in the Indy Pro Car series at Kentucky Speedway, driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in the #57 SMART Papers/Lucas Oil car. After turning in a 192.399 MPH qualifying lap, Munter demonstrated her ability to quickly pass cars and make her way toward the front. "I had a bad restart and dropped all the way back to 13th, but I raced my way back up to the front and was setting up to pass for fourth place, when the two guys in front of me touched wheels and I was collected in the mess."

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Could “Stick and Ball” Owners Save NASCAR’s Integrity?

Ever since Brian France took over at the helm of NASCAR, it is well documented that it has been his dream for it become as popular as your traditional ‘stick and ball' sports, most notably, professional football. In the first few years of his reign, his unabashed comparisons and ramblings about racing's ratings vs. the NFL's sometimes made me wonder if he was trying to make up for a bad football bench warming episode during his formative years. Let's face it, before Brian Z. took over, the NFL was what it was and NASCAR was, well, NASCAR. Traditionally, the predominantly ‘good ole boys' of the southern racing community liked a good football game now and then, and your NFL fan was your basic guy who usually also likes fast cars. Comparisons between the two weren't usually made; however, now it's a different story.

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Fanning the Flames: The Second Coming Of Bobby Ginn? A Word Of Warning For Jeff Moorad And Company

A note of foreboding before we get this week's questions rolling: It has been only one short year since a flashy real estate developer hit the sport with the force of a hurricane. A "five-year plan" to bring a title to the former MB2 Motorsports team; a hiring coup in grabbing the sport's elder statesman, Mark Martin; an expanded palace of a race shop that included the Christmas toy on every team owners' wish list - the seven-post shaker; a play for the sport's most sought-after free agent, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.; the expansion from two cars to three; heck, he even threw in two new team jets for good measure. Well, we all know how this chapter ended for Bobby Ginn. After pouring in more money and talking a bigger game than any other owner in that short run, Ginn's house of cards came tumbling down with one small gust of wind.

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Mirror Driving: Is Junior’s Situation Bad? Chase Changes: Did They Make You Mad? And Is Toyota Feeling Rad?

If Dale Earnhardt, Jr. doesn't make the Chase - and right now, it certainly isn't looking good - how will the No. 8 team perform the rest of the season? Vito: I think the No. 8 will perform as they have been - Junior and company aren't just mailing it in. He has too much class and respects the wishes of his father too much to do anything different. Toni: I'm not entirely sure why making or not making the Chase will make them perform any differently? Beth: Well, they won't have to worry about running for points.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Nextel Cup: 2007 Sharp Aquos 500 at Fontana Edition

Three things easily sum up this weekend's race at California Speedway: hot, hot and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Countless Earnhardt fans were on the edge of their seats just waiting to see if one of the drivers at the bottom of the Top 12 would slip up, giving their man a chance at making the Chase and the rest of us were forced to go along for the ride as the entire race seemed to be a case of "Where in the World is Dale Jr. Now?" At the end of the night, Earnhardt finished a solid fifth, but still is a long shot to make it into the post season Chase. But as the summer sun baked the drivers, crew members and the scarce number of fans in the stands; Jimmie Johnson came out on top to score his fifth win of the season and looking like he barely broke a sweat. So what other drivers thrived in the sweltering heat and which ones shriveled up under the pressure? Read this week's who's hot and who's not to find out.

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