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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.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 Food City 500 at Bristol Edition

As Jeff Burton took the white flag for what would soon be the 40-year-old driver's first victory since April of last year, the UPS No. 44 car crawled along the apron as the eventual winner passed. It was *Dale Jarrett's* final lap in a Sprint Cup points race, and just as the 1999 champion had done since his first start in 1984, the 51-year-old raced with respect and gave the leaders room. Few drivers are as respected among the NASCAR garage as Jarrett -- but ironically, Sunday's Food City 500 winner was among that elite group, too. As fate would have it, the same driver who raced clean and accepted a second place finish to Kyle Busch at Bristol one year ago had the race fall into his lap when leader *Denny Hamlin* fell off the pace with a fuel pickup problem a lap and a half from the finish. Now armed with 20 career wins, Burton has emerged as one of the hottest drivers on the circuit, off to the same solid start that propelled him to a spot in the Chase last year.

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Ten Points To Ponder… After the 2008 Food City 500 at Bristol

1) *Can't Get Much Simpler…* - Last Friday's rainout of qualifying for the Food City 500 required NASCAR to fall back to its rulebook for determining the lineup. It's one of the more complex plans ever created, so let's see if we can work through it together... OK, let's begin. The first rule's easy; the Top 35 teams in owner points for 2007 are placed on the starting grid 1-35. Then, out of the remaining eight positions, past winners of the race will be selected first, putting Kurt Busch (Sam Hornish, Jr. was given his 2007 points) in the 36th starting spot for his previous Bristol dominance. Next in the pecking order are past champions of the series; thus, Dale Jarrett, in his final points race before retiring, started 37th.

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Bubble Breakdown: Brian Vickers Digs Out Of A Hole, While Jamie McMurray Digs Himself One

When the checkered flag fell at Bristol Motor Speedway Sunday afternoon, it ended more than just the Food City 500. For some, it concluded a short-term "mulligan" they've utilized for over a month. For the first five races this season, the Top 35 was based on 2007 owner points; that loophole allowed rookies like Dario Franchitti and Regan Smith to receive an automatic qualifying spot each week -- even to the prestigious Daytona 500 -- despite limited experience on stock car's highest level. But now, a handful of these poor-performing teams are faced with a whole different type of scenario. Starting in two weeks at Martinsville, the Top 35 drivers who are locked into the starting grid will be based on 2008 owner points; and for those who haven't kept pace, they're now in danger of packing up and heading home each Friday -- putting them even further behind. Five teams and drivers worked their way into the Top 35 after the first five races of 2008 to displace those struggling organizations. Who were they, and which cars are now on the outside looking in? Let's take a look as we switch from the 2007 to 2008 owner points while looking back on Bristol...

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The Best Ad Campaign in NASCAR History

_Dale Jarrett picks up his helmet and steps out of the garage in his UPS firesuit. Poignant music begins to play. Dale walks slowly in front of the now iconic UPS truck and stares at it pensively._ _He is seen driving the truck in front of the garage. Elliott Sadler and Martin Truex Jr. are seen looking on, and then his buddies Bobby Labonte and Kyle Petty watch the truck go by with smiles on their faces._ _The truck is seen alone running on the track, and Dale's "crew chief" shouts in his headset, "Dale, you got company out there!" Other cars driven by Labonte, Truex, Petty and Sadler join in and inform Jarrett that "you ain't leavin' without a race!"_ _The three-time Daytona 500 winner obliges: "You want a race, you got one!"_ _His father Ned Jarrett, a NASCAR champion himself, cheers him on: "Go Dale Go!" Finally, after seven years, Dale Jarrett is racing in the big brown truck._

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Rick Crawford Driver Diary: Fiery Crashes and Rock n’ Roll Revivals

We ended last time by starting at Daytona. We were ready to go racing. Daytona Speedweeks is always exciting. It's always great to be at the world center of racing. Leading up to the race, the Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford F-150 was running great with Ford Power Stroke Diesel by International. We got ready to qualify, and qualified a little bit better than we expected because the truck that we took to Daytona is really good in race trim, and we knew how good it was. At the beginning of the race, I sort of got boxed in and there was no where to go. The inside line I was in sort of pushed me toward the back, so we hung around there for a little while. At Daytona, with the intake reducer on it, the racing is really close there for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series so at the beginning of the race we just kind of let the ranks get sorted out. That's not necessarily my style, but we did. I even watched my teammate, Brendan Gaughan, go by me in the MaxxForce Diesel by International pickup and I thought "Wow! Look at him go!" He was going to the front and I think he actually got up to about third, fourth, or fifth before the big accident happened on the back straightaway.

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Voices From the Heartland: What Does ‘Back In the Day’ Mean To You?

Recently, a colleague who is relatively new to the NASCAR media frenzy, not to mention a foreigner (but we don't hold that against him!), posed a very interesting question in our "Frontstretch Forum":https://frontstretch.com/board/ that really made me think. That question was essentially; "What made NASCAR so great ‘back in the day'? What did I miss?" At first, I thought, that's easy! But the more I thought about it, I really had to sit down and actually think! What HAS NASCAR meant or been to me these last 30 years? I say 30 years because, while like any other kid growing up in the early to mid 70s, I knew who Richard Petty was, but never really took notice until another icon was bursting upon the scene.

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Fanning the Flames: Speed = Distance Divided By Time

*Q: Glad to see that the drivers are speaking up about the Carl Edwards infraction. Dale, Jr., Elliott Sadler and others were vocal in their opinions that Jack Roush and Edwards were not being forthright concerning their knowledge of intent about the oil box lid. Maybe NASCAR telling the guys that they could show more personality is actually working. In the past drivers merely gave canned answers so as not to rock the boat. This infraction has brought about a much more decisive reaction and pointed comments out of some.* _— Matt Ralph_ *A:* When Elliott Sadler states that Roush Racing is "insulting my intelligence" in going to the bolts-failure card and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. calls it a "ridiculous" excuse, it tells you all you need to know. If fans wanted to hear politically correct, programmed quotes from the competitors then press release copy editors would be millionaires. I'm assuming, of course, that most aren't.

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Mirror Driving: Toyota Triumphs, Penalties Confuse… And Hendrick Heartache?

*Toyota broke through with their first Sprint Cup win as a manufacturer on Sunday. What else can we expect from them throughout 2008 — and how will the other three go about stepping it up?* Tony: Toyota's main strength seems to be not just with drivers, but producing power this year. The other teams will need to work on their engines as the season goes on -- although Roush seems to not be that far behind. Mike: One thing is for sure; Toyota learned last year that its engine was the liability, and it's definitely fixed that issue.

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Top Ten Nice Things Tony Stewart Could Have Said About Goodyear, Re dux?

*10.* "They sure are round! These are some of the roundest tires I've ever raced on." *9.* "As the ‘exclusive tire supplier of NASCAR' through 2012, at least the 'company' is viable." *8.* "I thought they quit making bias ply tires years ago!" *7.* "At least NASCAR won't have to worry about teams soaking a ‘foreign substance' into these babies!"

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Five Good NASCAR Role Models

It seems like every couple of weeks during the season, the headline the day after a Sprint Cup event announcing the race winner is shared by either the newest physical altercation, one driver "trash talking" another, or unnecessary rough driving being committed by a competitor. Although I do believe NASCAR attempts to keep behavior at an "acceptable" level, I am not naive enough to understand that the sanctioning body knows a little public controversy can be good, as long as people spell the name right (note to the stick and ball reporters out there: it's spelled N-A-S-C-A-R). Anyways, as long as I hold onto that belief, it makes it easier for me to understand why the sport does not put a stop to about 90% of such shenanigans. It certainly is not because they the sport is helpless to reign in their "bad actors." We all know they can do that! But still…they don't. And judging by Brian France's comments in January, in which he claimed the sport "needed to get back to its roots," I don't expect that to happen anytime soon.

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