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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.

2007 Driver Review: Sterling Marlin

*2007 Ride*: No. 14 Ginn Racing Chevrolet *2007 Primary Sponsor*: Waste Management / Panasonic *2007 Owner*: Bobby Ginn *2007 Crew Chief*: Slugger Labbe *Stats*: 21 Races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 0 Top 10s. *Best Finish*: 13th (Darlington - May) *High Point*: The high points of Marlin's year came early in the season. Racing with his new team at Ginn Motorsports, he started the season without any owner points. This meant he would have to qualify by speed to get into the race. After qualifying 38th in the Daytona 500, Marlin finished 17th. Throughout the next four races, Marlin continued to qualify by his speed results. He was the only driver outside of the top 35 in owner's points to qualify for all five races. His best finish of the season was 13th, which was in the Dodge Avenger 400 at Darlington. Other than his 16th place spot after the first race of the season, Marlin's highest point standings for 2007 was 34th, after the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway.

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2007 Driver Review: Kevin Lepage

*2007 Ride*: No. 37 Front Row Motorsports Dodge *2007 Primary Sponsor*: None *2007 Owner*: Bob Jenkins *2007 Crew Chief* : Scott Eggleston *Stats* : 2 Races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 0 Top 10s, 64th in points. *High Point*: In the 17th race of the season, the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire, Lepage achieved his best start and finish of a difficult 2007. Lepage timed his way into the race, putting down a lap of 30.125 seconds and a speed of 126.433 mph to place 37th on the starting grid. Although he ended the day six laps behind the leader in 35th, Lepage finished better than some more notable and better-funded competitors to bring in a $69,500 payout.

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2007 Driver Review: Terry Labonte

*2007 Ride*: No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota *2007 Primary Sponsor*: NAPA Auto Parts *2007 Owner*: Buffy Waltrip *2007 Crew Chief*: Buddy Sisco *Stats*: 3 Races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 0 Top 10s. *Best Finish*: 30th (Indianapolis and Watkins Glen) *High Point*: The high point of Labonte's 2007 season was simply being asked to come out of retirement to strap in for Michael Waltrip Racing. Waltrip himself was struggling to qualify for races, let alone accumulate Nextel Cup points with his new Toyota team; desperate for answers, he called upon the 50-year-old Labonte to jump behind the wheel of the No. 55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota. Labonte wound up coming back for both road courses - two of his all-time favorite tracks - as well as the prestigious Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

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2007 Driver Review: Matt Kenseth

*2007 Ride*: No. 17 Roush Fenway Ford *2007 Primary Sponsor*: DeWalt Tools *2007 Owners*: Jack Roush and John Henry *2007 Crew Chief*: Chip Bolin (Feb. Daytona - March Atlanta following the suspension of Robbie Reiser during Daytona Speedweeks), Robbie Reiser (Remainder of Year) *2007 Stats*: 36 starts, 2 Wins, 13 Top 5s, 22 Top 10s, 4th in points. *High Point*: Anytime a driver gets a win on the Nextel / Sprint Cup Series, it is considered a large achievement, one that many drivers can only dream about. A victory is extra special for Matt Kenseth, who is known more for his rock solid consistent finishes rather than the dominating double-digit win seasons main rivals Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have put up through the years. So, his two victories at the Auto Club 500 in Fontana and the season finale Ford 400 in Homestead will surely stand out from the rest of the 2003 Champ's accomplishments - especially when one considers who was atop the pit box during those feats.

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2007 Driver Review: Bobby Labonte

*2007 Ride*: No. 43 Petty Enterprises Dodge *2007 Owner*: Richard Petty *2007 Primary Sponsor*: Cheerios / Betty Crocker *2007 Crew Chief*: Paul Andrews (Feb. - Aug.); Doug Randolph (Aug. - Nov.) *Stats*: 36 Races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 3 Top 10s, 18th in points. *Best Finish*: 8th (Phoenix - April; Bristol - August) *High Point*: After Labonte scored just one Top 10 in the first 22 races of 2007, the addition of Doug Randolph as crew chief met with some immediate positive results. Labonte scored a ninth place finish in Randolph's debut at Michigan, and followed it up with another Top 10 at Bristol and an 11th place finish at California. That all led up to Labonte's 500th career start at Richmond, where he finished an admirable 16th; unfortunately for Labonte, that was where the magic fizzled; he finished in the top 15 just once more in the ten-race Chase.

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2007 Driver Review: Kasey Kahne

*2007 Ride:* No. 9 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge *2007 Primary Sponsor:* Dodge Dealers Lifetime Powertrain Warranty / UAW *2007 Owner:* Ray Evernham *2007 Crew Chief:* Kenny Francis *Stats:* 36 Races, 0 Wins, 1 Top 5, 8 Top 10s, 19th in points. *High Point:* You wouldn't think it would be that hard to find a high point for Kasey Kahne - one of the bright young stars of the Cup Series - but 2007 was pretty dismal. Kahne went winless, scoring his lone Top 5 at the Bristol night race in August. At least he can take some consolation from the fact that it wasn't a fluke; for that race, at least, he looked like the Kasey Kahne everyone expected for '07, leading 305 of 500 laps after starting from the pole.

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2007 Driver Review: Dale Jarrett

*2007 Ride*: No. 44 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota *2007 Primary Sponsor*: UPS *2007 Owner*: Michael Waltrip *2007 Crew Chief*: Matt Borland (Feb. - May); Jason Burdett (May - Nov.) *Stats*: 24 Races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 0 Top 10s, 0 Poles, 41st in points. *High Point*: Boy, that's a tough one! While optimism was high at the onset of Toyota's inaugural Cup season - led by past champion Jarrett - things just never seemed to materialize. After using up all of his "Past Champion Provisionals," the newly formed No. 44 team had to rely solely on "timing in" to get into the field for most of the season. While DJ did manage to qualify in on time for 18 of the 24 races that he participated in - often at the expense of one of his teammates - he never started in the top 20 until late September.

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Rick Crawford Driver Diary: Until We Meet Again

2007 was a good year for the Circle Bar Racing team and the No. 14 Power Stroke Diesel Ford by International. It was a great year for Circle Bar Racing to have two of its trucks, with our teammate David Starr in the Top 10 in the points and the No. 14 truck in the Top 5 in the points. We had a good strong finish at Homestead with third place, and it was just a good year for us. My hat's off to Hornaday for winning the championship and Skinner for second. Those guys had great years, and earned top finishes all year, and ultimately deserved to battle it out for a championship. The banquet was painless. It was short and sweet. My owner's daughter, Lisa Mitchell, received the top finishing Ford award for the No. 14 truck from Ford Racing. That was a pretty neat moment for her. She gave a speech thanking everybody at Ford Motor Company and International and all of our sponsors and everybody that worked on the crew for a great year - and especially from her Dad. I received a Top 5 award in the year end points and that was pretty neat. I got to be on stage and that's a good place to be at the end of the year, on stage. That's what everybody shoots for, so I'd say it was a good year for us.

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2007 Driver Review: Denny Hamlin

*2007 Ride:* No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet *2007 Primary Sponsor:* FedEx *2007 Owner:* Joe Gibbs *2007 Crew Chief:* Mike Ford *Stats:* 36 Races, 1 Win, 12 Top 5s, 18 Top 10s, 1 pole, 12th in points. *High Points:* Denny Hamlin's lone win of the season came at Loudon this July, and was definitely the high point for the season as much as finishing positions were concerned. Leading 46 laps, Hamlin outdueled the Hendrick Motorsports crowd to finally cash in on a Car of Tomorrow victory after falling short to Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson on several occasions in the Spring.

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2007 Driver Review: Jeff Green

*2007 Ride*: No. 66 Haas CNC Racing Chevrolet *2007 Primary Sponsor*: Best Buy *2007 Owner*: Gene Haas *2007 Crew Chief* : Harold Holly *Stats* : 32 Races, 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 3 Top 10s, 32nd in points. *High Point*: Jeff Green and the No. 66 team struggled through the first four races of the year, but hit on something in the first CoT event at Bristol. After qualifying ninth - his best start of the season - Green came home in sixth position. The Top 10 did not come easy at the World's Fastest Half-Mile; Green fought back from a lap down, moving up three spots over the final 12 laps to earn his best finish of 2007. He'd wind up matching that twice more over the course of the season, placing 6th at both Phoenix and Loudon - also Car of Tomorrow events.

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