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Well, That About Wraps It Up For Ganassi – The Sequel

Being the egotistical sort of creature that I am, I often -- upon hearing certain news items come out of the NASCAR garage -- go back through my archives to assure myself that I do, in fact, know what I am talking about. Turns out that's the case once again this week, as another set of my opinions came true after hearing the blithering idiocy recently spouted by none other than Felix Sabates of Chip Ganassi Racing with... Felix Sabates. Why, it was just over two years ago that the "first" production of this article was written and, looking back, it amazes even a man of my hat size that I can be so darned right all the time!

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Fanning the Flames: Recent Hires Show NASCAR Owners Heading In A Familiar Direction

And with that, the Open Wheel Invasion has ended. If you're wondering about the “that” of which I speak, it's Chip Ganassi Racing’s announcement that Dario Franchitti will return to full-time IRL competition in 2009 -- leaving behind Sprint Cup aspirations that lasted all of half a season. Yes, I know a few drivers whose past is rooted in dirt will still make their way up the ranks in full-bodied stock cars on occasion, but the Big Boys -- those who were established IRL and Formula 1 stars, even champions — will most likely be staying in their respective series. How do I know? How could I make such a proclamation? The hirings of David Stremme, Casey Mears, and Reed Sorenson, that’s how.

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Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans: Chasing Down Your Best Bets For Richmond

Providing Hurricane Hanna doesn’t interfere with the proceedings in Richmond, the "regular season" comes to an end in the Cup Series this Saturday night. The Chase picture will be completely in focus after the checkered flag falls, but one thing fantasy owners should know is that it's already set for the majority of the field already. The challenge this weekend is for those gamers who have a borderline driver on their roster. Do they run a driver who is under intense pressure and may make a mistake, or do they run someone who is already out of contention, knowing they have nothing to be conservative about? Even for those drivers who are "locked in," the danger is that they are looking for bonus points and have nothing to lose -- so they may be involved in something because of over exuberance that ends up hurting their fantasy owners. Will this weekend cause a repeat of the Dale Earnhardt, Jr. vs. Kyle Busch confrontation from this Spring? Will the Joe Gibbs cars in general be strong at Richmond again? Can Carl Edwards knock another 10 points off of Kyle Busch’s bonus point lead for the Chase? Can Jimmie Johnson continue his strong push to the postseason? And which of these men will drive a bid into the fantasy racing playoffs of your own? Read on for this week’s Picks ‘N’ Pans to see which drivers should be on your roster and which ones should be at Home Depot shopping for generators and plywood.

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What’s Vexing Vito: Can Richmond Reignite The Spark So Many Fans Have Lost?

This weekend marks the 26th race of the 2008 Sprint Cup season, and the final race before the fifth annual Championship Chase begins. With David Ragan and Kasey Kahne getting set to make a last ditch effort to get into title contention, Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin are among a few men walking on egg shells, a tightrope, and over the abyss at the .750-mile short track in Henrico County, Virginia Saturday night. Why, then, am I so completely underwhelmed with apathy matched only by a sustaining member of the Green Party?

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Did You Notice?…Ragan’s Rise Equals Kenseth’s Fall? A Chase Race To Safety, And Stewart’s Success

*Did You Notice?* … How different things look now for David Ragan now than at this point a year ago? Let’s take a look at the stats through 25 races of his rookie season: 0 Wins, 1 Top 5 (Daytona 500 in February), 1 Top 10 (that same Daytona), 2 DNFs, 22nd in driver points, and getting walloped by Montoya in the Rookie Of The Year Race. How disappointing a performance was that for the freshman? Consider that Mark Martin – the longtime driver of Roush’s flagship No. 6 car – was sitting 24th in the standings, just 46 points behind the rookie while manning a No. 01 car part-time that had changed owners just one month earlier. To make matters worse, Martin accomplished his total with eight fewer starts under his belt, outshining Ragan in every way imaginable in making even the casual observer wonder why there wasn’t a bigger push to keep the veteran in the AAA Ford part-time. Nearly one year to the day after Tony Stewart called him a “dart without feathers,” Ragan looked like a dart going nowhere – even with the veteran guidance of Jimmy Fennig by his side.

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Richmond: A “Must-See” Event

Unless the 10-race shootout for the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup becomes a real barnburner of a battle leading into the final race of the season at Homestead, this weekend’s event will be as good as it will get for stock car racing fans. No other race on the schedule will match this race for drama and excitement like the hard-nosed, race-to-win competition that fans will witness Saturday night. All the ingredients are in place for one great show, starting with the correct venue. The ¾-mile Richmond International Raceway will provide, perhaps better than any other track on the Sprint Cup circuit, a site that will give teams struggling to maintain their Top 12 Chase eligible point positions and the two drivers needing to unseat them the best opportunity to achieve their goals the old fashioned way...by earning it.

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Frontstretch Sprint Cup Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2008 Pepsi 500

Frontstretch Power Rankings
California is a wide open track with plenty of room to run. The drivers had to struggle with the sun as it was going down and ultimately struggled with making their cars handle as the track cooled off. The end result was Jimmie Johnson won the race and moved up two spots in the rankings this week as did Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer. But the biggest mover was Greg Biffle, climbing three spots from ninth to sixth. Tony Stewart was the biggest loser this week, dropping four spots while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. slid three. To see if your driver was chillin’ in the sun or burnt by the California heat, check out the results of our Top 15 rankings.

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Are We There Yet? 2008 Season Plods Into Richmond With Chase Set To Begin – Is Anyone Really Paying Attention?

Mercifully, the Pepsi 500 at California’s Auto Club Speedway has come to a close. A race that has supplanted the beloved Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway over Labor Day weekend was the highlight of yet another exercise in futility at a track that has been criticized in recent years for poor attendance, poor racing, and generating all of the anticipation and excitement of a root canal. In that regard, it did not disappoint again, as the Nationwide race on Saturday night saw Kyle Busch lead all but six laps en route to his seventh win of the season. Sunday evening was Jimmie Johnson’s night to hang one on the field, mimicking his dominance of the Brickyard 400, driving the same car to victory while leading 228 of 250 laps to earn his third win of the season. He did so while brushing off tepid challenges from Greg Biffle and the two Red Bull entries of Brian Vickers and A.J. Almendinger. This in front of a crowd of approximately 70,000 people — about 40 minutes from one of the largest cities and metropolitan areas on the planet. Yawn.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 Pepsi 500 Edition

One race is all that remains between now and this year's much anticipated Chase. While half of the Top 12 head to Richmond with a win-or-lose mentality after locking in their place in the Chase, a number of teams must run smart and post a solid finish to simply make the playoffs. Clint Bowyer holds a 17 point lead over David Ragan for the final Chase spot and both are on this week's WARM list meaning something has to give this weekend. With his win Sunday night, Jimmie Johnson proved he belongs in the same breath as Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch as championship contenders, but if you want a sleeper for the title, look no further than another driver from Johnson's home state of California. To find out who, check out this week's edition of Who's Hot / Who's Not in Sprint Cup.

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Running Their Mouth: 2008 Pepsi 500

_Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Sprint Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find: the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members, and the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Pepsi 500 presented at Auto Club Speedway:_ "It is amazing. To have the fan base that I do here and fans of this sport that we do here means the world to me. Being in my home state the [Jimmie Johnson] Foundation on the side of the car, this is an awesome race. To do it with style like that and have the dominant car all night long; the longest it took me to do anything tonight was to get out of the car and I apologize for that." _Jimmie Johnson_

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