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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.

Racing And Politics: Not A Good Mix

Who will win the 2008 presidential election is still anybody's guess. But when it comes to NASCAR, who they _want_ to win isn't even in question these days. Considering the rash of “honorary” guests from John McCain’s presidential campaign team recently attending Sprint Cup events, the sanctioning body clearly is supporting the Republican Party ticket, and is willing to offer its services to their effort to win the White House. What NASCAR is serving up to their political party of choice is a captive audience of 100,000 motorsports fans that really came to watch a race, but are getting -- whether they want it or not -- a low-key partisan political rally as well. However, truth be told, the majority of fans in attendance have no objection to the not-so-subtle support of the Republican presidential ticket at the races.

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Mirror Driving: A NASCAR Spending Cap? Fixing Qualifying, And Saving The Truck Series

*Following a dominant performance on Sunday, can anyone catch Jimmie Johnson for the championship? And if so, which team will do it?* Matt T.: Nope. Jimmie is the smoothest driver and Chad is the smartest crew chief. They won't give this thing away. Doug: Just like with Jeff Gordon and Evernham, J.J. and Chad have that "magic.” They shine when the light shines on them. Vito: Unless someone slips them one of Kyle Busch's engines or Dale Jr.'s tires, this thing is over. Even then, if Johnson does pop a motor — or a tire — Burton, Biffle, and Edwards have to be on their game and virtually perfect from here on out. And none of them has shown that they or their crews can do that.

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Talking NASCAR TV: Mistakes Mar ESPN’s Middling Martinsville Coverage

The television coverage of Chase Race Number Six at Martinsville achieved approximately the same quality level as the other five Chase races. Unfortunately, the network team in front of and behind the camera has not made much progress in correcting ongoing mistakes and heeding to repeated suggestions. At the same time, the things throughout NASCAR on ESPN broadcasts that are done well continue to show impressively to viewers, giving the show some building blocks upon which to grow. However, the negatives always seem to be remembered more boldly than the positives as the season winds down.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville

It was the same track, same story for Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team, who extended their Top 10 streak at Martinsville to 13 races with a win this weekend. Not only did Johnson extend his Top 10 streak at the paper clip half-mile, but he also extended his Top 10 streak overall to eight races on the season. With Jeff Burton struggling this weekend, Johnson is now the lone driver on this week's *HOT* list. While Johnson is clearly the series' hottest driver and appears to be headed toward a third consecutive championship, a handful of drivers make the *WARM* list this week. To see if your favorite driver makes the cut, or if they need nothing more than a solid run at Atlanta, check out the latest edition of Who's Hot / Who's Not in Sprint Cup: Chase Edition.

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Ten Points To Ponder… After the 2008 TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville

*Racing Economics* - In the face of the current economic downturn that is making it problematic for team owners to find the financial backing they need to survive -- one that includes possible takeovers or mergers involving three of NASCAR’s four participating auto manufacturers -- it was reported that NASCAR is considering reducing the number of cars in the starting lineup for each race. However, NASCAR president Mike Helton denies that there is any consideration by the sanctioning body to cut Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series fields to 28 and Sprint Cup Series lineups to 36. “First of all, it wasn’t a report, it was somebody’s opinion from the garage area and it was not a NASCAR opinion. We’re not looking at reducing the fields,” responded Helton on the issue. But should the economic slump continue to worsen, will reduced starting lineups even be NASCAR’s decision?

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Bubble Breakdown: Michael Waltrip and Scott Riggs Continue Push Into Top 35

Martinsville, Virginia played host to NASCAR’s field of 43 this past Sunday for the running of the Tums QuikPak 500. The half-mile paper clip shaped oval makes for some exciting beating and banging throughout the event. If you ever questioned how tough this track was, NASCAR veteran Kurt Busch came on his radio three quarters of the way through the event, crying that he wanted to park his car and go home because he was afraid he may get hurt. Now if a veteran struggles like that, just imagine how tough it was for a rookie like Scott Speed, making his NASCAR debut!

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Driven To The Past: Getting Even With Dr. Dick

Reading through my copy of Speedway Illustrated this week got me to thinking about Dick Berggren. Dr. Dick and I became friends when I was with ASA. In addition to doing some flagging, I would write a story or two for Stock Car Racing when he was the Editor. I was impressed by his knowledge of racing and the fact that he was a former driver himself. People tell me that he was particularly adept on the dirt. In the December 1982 edition of that magazine, he used a “most unforgettable” format, and my pal Al Stilley, an extremely accomplished racing writer and newspaperman, chose me for his subject and called for an interview. I was very flattered, of course, and muddled my way through it, being more accustomed to acting as the interviewer than the interviewee. The story took up one page, and it was a good one, I thought. My mother framed it, and I’ve still got a copy of the issue.

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Please NASCAR, Not Martinsville Too

Martinsville Speedway isn’t for candy-ass drivers or spectators. And that’s the best thing about the joint. Like Fenway Park, one doesn’t go to Martinsville Speedway expecting the comforts and “amenities” of modern-day event facilities. Racing fans in southwest Virginia don’t go to races to sip lattes and possibly meet celebrities. No one goes to the paper clip to play roulette and maybe catch a few laps of a NASCAR event. The town of Martinsville isn’t built to host an event that may, and usually does, draw as many as 65,000 people. Parking is difficult to find and hotels are not abundant enough. There aren’t any major U.S. routes or interstates going through town. And you aren’t going to roll out of your hotel bed at 9AM if you want to beat Martinsville race traffic.

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Beyond The Cockpit: Matt Kenseth On A Lost Chase, Free Agency, And The CoT

_Only two men in NASCAR history can claim admission to all five Chase for the Championships: Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. But while Johnson has cruised to two straight titles under the new format, Kenseth has struggled to show the playoff consistency that won him the 2003 Winston Cup trophy in a landslide._ _It was Kenseth's dominant performance under that old point system that caused NASCAR to come up their current 10-race playoff. But while the formatting change hasn't been rewarding to the 2000 Rookie of the Year, Kenseth remains one of the sport's most visible, outspoken drivers with a sarcastic streak that can't be beat. And while his '08 Chase hasn't gone as expected -- three wrecks in five races left him out of contention -- he didn't let the bad luck affect his mood during a 15-minute interview with our own Doug Turnbull. Among the hot button topics discussed in an easygoing conversation: his pending free agency, David Ragan's success, and what will happen to Roush's fifth car._

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