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Vito Pugliese

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Vito is one of the longest-tenured writers at Frontstretch, joining the staff in 2007. With his column Voice of Vito (monthly, Fridays) he’s a contributor to several other outlets, including Athlon Sports and Popular Speed in addition to making radio appearances. He forever has a soft-spot in his heart for old Mopars and presumably oil-soaked cardboard in his garage.

The Chase For The Cup: Saving Fans From A Championship Already Decided

There has been much handwringing, carping, and moaning about NASCAR's Chase format ever since it was instituted in 2004. Introduced the same year Nextel replaced Winston as series sponsor following 31 years of unprecedented growth, the two became entangled in a litany of criticism surrounding the inevitable fear of change. And that was understandable; with the Latford points system providing some of the most memorable championship battles in history since 1975, the new format raised the ire of many a race fan to see the old system replaced with what seemed like a gimmick designed to resemble traditional stick-and-ball sport championships. With NASCAR now in the national spotlight, the sanctioning body was clearly attempting to go head-to-head with the NFL - the only sport it hadn't eclipsed in popularity - in the Fall with its own version of the playoffs. After snoozer points battles in 2000, 2001, and 2003, NASCAR and new series sponsor Nextel felt a change was in order. Turns out change was good.

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NASCAR: Still Showing What’s Right With Sports

For all intents and purposes, 2007 has been an absolute disaster for professional sports. Major League Baseball is about to have the most coveted and hallowed individual accomplishment bested, and the commissioner of the league's position regarding his attendance of the event, is predicated on if he doesn't have anything else better to do. Not to mention, the player who is preparing to beat the home run mark of 755 by Hank Aaron, is in the center of a grand jury investigation for using steroids and human growth hormone, among other unsavory allegations including an affair and funding his mistress' lifestyle through the sale of baseball memorabilia.

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A Winner In Any Era – Driven To The Past: Darrell Waltrip

Darrell Waltrip is known by all race fans and casual viewers alike, as the jovial anchor for Fox Sports' NASCAR coverage. Since 2001, we've all become familiar with his trademark phrase "Boogity, Boogity, Boogity.....Let's Go Racin', Boys!!!" He has also developed his own language, 'splainin' to us the difference between loose and tight, the practice of working together while trying to win for yourself (coopetition), cars named "Bertha", and he has also been known to break out into song. What many fans who have only started following the sport don't know is just how successful Darrell Waltrip was as a driver. He is often introduced as "3-time Champion, Darrell Waltrip", but with today's Chase format, it's hard to appreciate just how much he has accomplished.

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Turn That Frown Upside Down: DEI/Ginn Merger Has Upside All Around

Last week, the circle track world was up in arms about the goings-on at Ginn Racing. The former MB2 Motorsports team that shocked the world and showed so much promise by nearly winning the Daytona 500 in February, then going on to lead the points earlier in the year, was suddenly in dire straits. After dismissing long-time veterans and fan-friendly drivers Sterling Marlin and Joe Nemechek due to lack of sponsorship dollars, Ginn found himself having to go on Sirius NASCAR Radio to explain himself. It was a bit of damage control, with Ginn not wanting to appear to be this era's J.D. Stacy (unscrupulous early 1980's car owner), after being touted as potentially the next Rick Hendrick of the sport. Word has it that the DEI/Ginn Racing Merger is well underway, and may be announced as early as today. It is rumored that Mark Martin will drive this weekend under the DEI banner; an irony of sorts, as Earnhardt and Martin stagged some epic battles during the late 1980's through the 1990's. The No. 13 owner points look to be transferred to the No. 15 of DEI rookie Paul Menard, who has shown flashes of brilliance in his short Cup career.

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Driven To The Past: Phil Parsons

Phil Parsons is probably best known to race fans as part of the trio that make up the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series color commentating team for Speed. Along with Rick Allen and Michael Waltrip, Parsons can be seen and heard calling the action in NASCAR's version of Double-A baseball. What many may not know is that Phil was a pretty fair racecar driver in his own right, becoming part of racing history by winning the 1988 Winston 500 at Talladega.

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Kyle Busch: There’s Nothing More Dangerous Than A Man With Nothing Left To Lose

_"You better not try to stand in my way_ _As I'm a walking out the door,_ _Take this job and shove it_ _I ain't workin' here no more."_ -Chorus to _"Take This Job And Shove It"_, by Johnny Paycheck Those words immediately came to mind when digesting the recent bizarre behavior exhibited by Kyle Busch. While his recent statements aren't exactly as outlandish as say, Tony Stewart accusing his teammate of backing up into him at 200mph at Daytona, they do give one pause for reflection: What the heck is up with this kid? It doesn't appear he's trying to make the best of a difficult situation, wooing a suiting sponsor, or auditioning for his next ride. He looks like a guy trying to get canned instead of quitting, so he can collect unemployment.

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Driven To The Past: Fred Lorenzen – Turning The Blue Oval Gold

Chicago is home to a number of things. Wind. Da Bears. Polish Sausage. Ditka…Ditka…and this weekend's race at Chicagoland. While the Chicagoland area is home to both Jake and Elwood Blues, it is also home to one of the 50 Greatest Drivers in NASCAR history. "The Golden Boy", Fred Lorenzen of Elmhurst, Illinois (or as it is pronounced on the other side of Lake Michigan, "Ill-uh-noise") was well on his way to writing a most impressive chapter in racing history when inexplicably, at the age of 32 years old and seemingly in his prime, he called it quits.

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Green & 13: Unlucky as Ever for Ginn Racing

At Daytona in February, Mark Martin made his debut for Ginn Racing by winning the Daytona 500...but losing the Daytona 505 by little more than one foot. Many argue that he got worked out of it by NASCAR's controversial decision to not throw the yellow flag for a crash off turn four until after the checkered flew. Not one to dwell on the past, Martin took the momentum from that run and put it to work, reeling off a series of impressive runs in what used to be Joe Nemechek's car. Nemechek was now driving the No. 13, a team that was hastily assembled following Martin's arrival to expand Ginn Racing into a three car arsenal for 2007. It was a move that should have led to on-track success...if only there were the money to fund it. At first, expansion and success for Ginn this season brought a basic form of respect along with it. What once was a decent 2nd-tier Cup operation was suddenly contending for wins and possibly even championships after only a few short months under Bobby Ginn's ownership.

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Driven To The Past: Greg Sacks

The Daytona 500 is widely recognized as the Superbowl of Stockcar racing. The July event has a slightly less prestigious moniker attached to it; longtime fans know it simply as The Firecracker 400. Before the days of the Pepsi sponsorship and lights circling the track; the race started by noon, as the stifling Florida heat and humidity in July made it as uncomfortable for the fans as it did the drivers. The old adage used to be "On the track by eleven, on the beach by three." In 1985, the most unlikely of drivers would visit Victory Lane at the World Center of Racing. This week we profile one of the most unlikely of heroes, as surprised at his own success, as were his competitors, Greg Sacks.

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What’s In A Suspension?

This past weekend's race at Loudon, New Hampshire marked the 8th race of the Car of Tomorrow, the 6th race of Tony Eury Jr's suspension, and the 1st race suspension for Chad Knaus and Steve Letarte for their infractions last week at Sonoma. It's the circle of life, Simba; one suspension ends, two more begin. However, it was widely reported all weekend long that even though Knaus and Letarte were indeed suspended, they were still at the track in some capacity. NASCAR reasoned that while they cannot be physically with their team, they are still permitted on the track's property and can be in communication with their team. Which got me to thinking: what the heck is in a suspension anyway?

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