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Holding A Pretty Wheel

Best of 2011: Unqualified Failure: Racing Isn’t About Speed Anymore

_Editor's Note: With 2011 winding down and the holidays upon us, it's time for the Frontstretch Staff to reflect on another great year. As part of that, we'd like to remind our readers of the year's special highlight, Amy Henderson, who received the website's first ever award from the National Motorsports Press Association. Henderson won second place in the Daily / Internet Columns category, for this column printed below and several others. We hope you enjoy rereading each one daily as we finish off our season with the best of the best._ While 43 race teams prepared their cars for Saturday’s last practice sessions and Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway, what was happening to three other teams told an entirely different story. As race preparations began, the No. 90 Keyed-Up Motorsports entry driven by Casey Mears, the No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet driven by Johnny Sauter, and the No. 46 Dodge of Whitney Motorsports and driver Terry Cook were packed up and pushed onto their haulers for the long trip home, having qualified 44th-46th for 43 spots. It happens every week, and it’s never fun to watch. But the slowest cars have to go home, right?

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BEST OF 2011: A Sport In Crisis: RPM Just One Card in NASCAR’s Deck

“The house of cards is finally falling for George Gillett’s Richard Petty Motorsports.” These words, written by "FOX Sports’ Lee Spencer,":http://msn.foxsports.com/nascar/story/Richard-Petty-Motorsports-in-financial-crisis-in-NASCAR-Sprint-Cup-ranks-102110 began what has become the biggest story in racing this week. As Gillett’s empire crumbles around him, RPM could be the latest casualty for the beleaguered owner of several different properties, including the soon-to-be-divested Liverpool FC soccer club. But Gillett's financial and personal woes are really just the tip of the iceberg of a Titanic-sized problem brewing for the number one stock car series in America. The team’s potential demise is a microcosm of a sport in crisis, the joker in a NASCAR house of cards becoming increasingly fragile.

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BEST OF 2011: At The Heart Of It All, It’s Not About NASCAR; It’s About Racing

_Editor's Note: With 2011 winding down and the holidays upon us, it's time for the Frontstretch Staff to reflect on another great year. As part of that, we'd like to remind our readers of the year's special highlight, Amy Henderson, who received the website's first ever award from the National Motorsports Press Association. Henderson won second place in the Daily / Internet Columns category, for this column printed below and several others. We hope you enjoy rereading each one daily as we finish off our season with the best of the best._

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Kurt Busch Out At Penske Racing

Kurt Busch will not return to Penske Racing in 2012. According to "a Charlotte Observer report":http://www.thatsracin.com/2011/12/04/80040/penske-racing-fires-kurt-busch.html Busch has been released from the No. 22 Penske Dodge, and a formal announcement from Penske Racing is expected on Monday. At the moment, Busch's legal counsel has denied this story, according to the AP's Jenna Fryer on her "twitter feed,":http://www.twitter.com/JennaFryer/ claiming Penske Racing has not made any type of decision on the future. However, several sources with knowledge of the situation confirm that a divorce from Penske is imminent.

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Let The Games Begin

If only Don King liked cars going in circles, the boxing promoter would be smiling proud this Friday morning. Heading into Homestead-Miami, the tete-a-tete battle between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards just ratcheted up a notch in the form of a little pre-race posturing. For most of the past few weeks, it’s been Stewart driving this phenomenon, doing most of the talking as a man who never hesitates to speak his mind. And that’s how it started on Thursday afternoon, Smoke signaling to the national media he won’t back down from the challenge of unseating NASCAR’s Sprint Cup point leader.

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Kyle Busch Will Race, But Can Anybody Win?

Nearly a week after Sprint Cup star Kyle Busch was parked for the weekend at Texas following an incident in the Camping World Truck Series last Friday night, the sport is still buzzing with reaction and speculation about the driver, the punishment, and the future. The picture still wasn’t terribly clear on Thursday night, just hours before the Cup cars were scheduled to open the weekend practices, though a couple of the pieces have fallen into place.

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Busch Drew the Line in “Boys, Have At It,” But Why Did NASCAR Let It Get This Far?

NASCAR is a racing series built on rivalries. Even more than that, it is a sport that thrives on them. Through 62 years of competition, each individual era has been defined by these mano-e-mano, on-track boxing matches: Petty-Pearson, Allison-Yarborough, Yarborough-Waltrip, Wallace-Earnhardt, Earnhardt-Gordon… the list is long and storied, full of current and future Hall of Famers. Rivalries, when they are played the right way, have helped make the sport as popular as it is today. But even with NASCAR’s “Boys, Have At It” policy, there is a line not to be crossed. During Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series race, "Kyle Busch crossed it when he deliberately wrecked Ron Hornaday, Jr. under caution.":http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDBd0CLjOwc

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Who’s Carrying Whom? The Question Behind the No. 48

When a young Jimmie Johnson burst onto the Sprint Cup scene in the fall of 2001, he was given one of the most coveted rides in the sport: a brand-new Hendrick Motorsports team, co-owned by Jeff Gordon, in an organization that had won five championships since 1995. When Gordon hand-picked Johnson, a lot of people were surprised; though Johnson had top-10 points finishes in the then-Busch Series in 2000 and 2001, he only had one win and there was nothing earth-shattering about it.

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Just Want Good, No-Frills Racing? It’s Right Here.

With the rain finally gone, the Camping World Truck Series took center stage at Martinsville Speedway for the Kroger 200, one of the toughest races in the series synonymous with the word tough. It’s a reputation well-earned by both track and trucks; NASCAR’s oldest racetrack and its youngest series seem made for each other. Really, nobody should be surprised that the trucks put on a great show. There are several reasons why the series offers some of the best (and most overlooked) racing in NASCAR, often producing excitement that even the more prestigious Sprint Cup Series often can’t.

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The Rise and Fall of UPS in NASCAR-And Who They Took Down With Them

Be careful what you wish for. In 2001, NASCAR was on an upswing. The sport enjoyed tremendous growth in the late 1990s, and before the 2001 season began, signs of its vibrant health were everywhere. The stands were full (at one point, Bristol motor Speedway had a waiting list for tickets so long that some estimates said it would be a generation before some people saw a seat, the race fields were competitive, full of entries from a wide variety of race teams, and sponsors were lining up to sponsor racecars as they saw the massive potential for return on investment. A look at the finishing order from the Daytona 500 shows a list of fully-sponsored cars from a variety of businesses: from General Motors to Dodge, from Budweiser and Coors to Miller, from K-Mart to Lowe’s and from Kodak to Kodiak to Pfizer. Everyone wanted a piece of the action back then.

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