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5 Points To Ponder

Five Points to Ponder: Sponsor Handshakes, The Ford vs Edwards Battle And A Fond Farewell

*ONE: Notice the NASCAR Presence in Victory Lane After Menard Won?*Paul Menard winning at Indianapolis was both fitting and a big deal. After scoring his first career Nationwide Series victory in Menard territory at the Milwaukee Mile back in 2006, the Wisconsin native upstaged that home state triumph in a big way, taking the checkered flag on the world's most famous racing oval.There's no downplaying the significance of the event...

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5 Points to Ponder: An Idiot Pastor, A Stuntman and The Fans Who Won’t Be There

*ONE: Talladega Nights Storms Nashville...*In the form of an invocation that was missing nothing more than references to KFC and race sponsor Federated Auto Parts. There's no getting around it; "a pastor's attempt at humor":http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6EgY0W6Er8 didn't do NASCAR any favors, even with 18,000 fans seemingly screaming their approval from the grandstands in Music City on Saturday night.

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Five Points to Ponder: 100 Wins, The One-Two Punch and An Empty Brickyard

When we next return to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in late September it will be for the second race of the 2011 Chase. And if you thought tempers were frayed and fenders busted and bruised this past weekend, just wait until the next time the Sprint Cup drivers take to the one mile flat track in the Granite State when the stakes will be even higher: especially those with a shot at dethroning the five-time champion, Double J. Speaking of the No. 48 team, Johnson certainly had another one of those golden horseshoe type weekends – seemingly out to lunch for much of the race before finally finishing fifth. Which just served as another warning, if any were needed, that he remains the man to beat – no question. One driver that just might unseat juggernaut Jimmie is the marginally less irascible Kyle Busch, which is where we’ll start this week’s edition of Five Points to Ponder…

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5 Points to Ponder: Kyle’s Next Step, Monopolies And Cashing In On A Crisis

*ONE: TV Broadcast Models Insufficient for Intermediate Oval Race Coverage*We'll get to traffic in a little bit; I want to give our readers a few more minutes to hopefully make it home from Sparta.Just about every column written over the past 48 hours discussing the traffic snarl-ups and logistical issues that highlighted the Kentucky Speedway's debut Cup race has made reference to “if only the race had been better, maybe the traffic jam wouldn't be the story we're all writing.” I highly doubt that, but the race certainly wasn't much to watch on paper. A 400-mile event full of green flag racing and yet without a single green flag pass for the lead does not make a compelling case for Cup racing in the Bluegrass State being much to write home about.

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Five Points to Ponder: Uncertain Futures for Logano, Cassill, UPS

*ONE: Matt Kenseth Might Have Saved His Future As Well as Ragan's 2011*If one certainty emerged out of David Ragan's first career win at Daytona, it's that he'll remain in the No. 6 car for the remainder of the 2011 season. With Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. running for the Nationwide championship and Trevor Bayne's momentum in the sport having cooled a bit, especially with his extended absence, Ragan put the period on his ride. That's thanks, of course to Matt Kenseth's loyal pushing in the final laps, unwilling to pass his teammate as the two sped to victory with Daytona's tandem drafting technique.

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5 Points to Ponder: Red Bull Departs, Can Rowdy Shape Up & Hold the Paver MIS

*ONE: Red Bull Leaving Sprint Cup is a Big, Big Deal*Red Bull Racing's Sprint Cup team, a two-car operation that has been around since Toyota's much-maligned entry into Cup racing in 2007, is not returning to NASCAR for 2012. Countless dominoes fall as a result; the full-time pit crew positions offered by each of the two teams are on the chopping block, Brian Vickers needs a new ride, and one of the premier rides available for 2012 in Silly Season is gone. The team has made public that they are seeking outside investors for 2012, with FOX Sports reporting that the team had gone a long way negotiating with Clint Bowyer to take over the No. 4 for Kasey Kahne next year.

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Five Points to Ponder: Boys Be Good, Peace Summits and Rough Restarts

*ONE: What Happened to "Boys, Have at It"?*Sunday's race at Pocono was not all too bad a show, but the highlight of the race was still seen early in the going as Kevin Harvick took to racing Kyle Busch very very hard, pushing him down the track for almost the entire length of the front straightaway on numerous occasions. It got to the point that NASCAR officials instructed both drivers to tone it down and stay off each other. Kevin Harvick didn't deny it post-race either, noting that Busch “knows he has one coming.”

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5 Points To Ponder: Gauging Keselowski, Earnhardt Momentum Post-Kansas

We’re now exactly half way to the Chase cutoff point and if things continue apace we’re certainly not going to be lacking excitement across the sweltering summer months; as the heat descends upon us, the scrabble for Chase positions and the inherent tension of making the big dance ratchets up notch by notch and week by week. One driver who will be about a billion times happier with that is the driver of the #2 Miller Lite Penske Racing Dodge, Big Bad Brad Keselowski who eked out his second ever victory in two-plus seasons (albeit thanks to fuel mileage) which is where we’ll start this week’s edition of Five Points to Ponder.*ONE: Big Win For The Blue Deuce And Penske Racing*Few drivers have announced themselves on the Cup circuit with quite the clamor that surrounded the third generation racer – Brad Keselowski.

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Five Points to Ponder: Going the Distance, Danica’s Done Deal, and NASCAR Got It Right?

*ONE: Poor Motives Aside, NASCAR Got the Last Lap Call Correct*Yes, it was about as subtle as Larry the Cable Guy flashing his man boobs in the Sprint Cup drivers' meeting earlier in the evening. NASCAR's decision to hold off on throwing the yellow flag with two to go as Jeff Burton and others spun as a result of a ragged restart after Kasey Kahne ran out of gas was both inconsistent with the sanctioning body's practice of throwing the yellow for anything from empty beer cans to long green flag runs...and Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s best chance of 2011 to snap his nearly three year losing streak.

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Five Points to Ponder: The Junior Rule, Wishing For a Short Track and Stenhouse Jr.’s Future

*ONE: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Made the All-Star Race…Was It Really That Hard?*There really wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that NASCAR’s most popular driver by miles was not going to race in Saturday night’s All-Star Race. The fan vote this season, with Earnhardt still riding a long winless streak and over a decade removed from his All-Star triumph as a rookie, was decided before it began. That wasn’t the only insurance policy that NASCAR took on the Showdown rules though; a little publicized rule change altered the fan vote, requiring the winner no longer be on the lead lap, but simply to have a car deemed race worthy by the race director (Absent a rule book, there were plenty asking rhetorically, or not so much, does that mean the car the fan vote winner started the race with? Or the other one they’ve got chilling in the hauler?)

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