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Tony Lumbis

Beyond the Cockpit: Regan Smith Optimistic About Future… Even Racing In Canada

_Regan Smith has about seen it all during his first season and a half in the Sprint Cup series. But despite seeing his team fold up in 2007 and working with a fourth different crew chief so far in his young Cup career, Smith is still battling hard with rookie rival Sam Hornish, Jr. for the 2008 Rookie of the Year Award._ _The driver of the No. 01 Chevrolet took time out of his schedule at Pocono to speak to our Tony Lumbis about his season to date, his new crew chief, the influence of mentor Mark Martin, and his experience racing north of the border in our latest edition of Beyond The Cockpit._ *The 2007 season was one of great transition for you. You lost the Nationwide ride due to financial reasons, you became the driver of the No. 14 car and had it shut down before even getting in the seat, then you had the DEI merger and had Aric Almirola take over the No. 01. How do you as a driver stay focused through all of that?* This sport is a sport of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and it’s always been that way. You have to have good people looking after you and people you can go to when you’re in a tough situation. Not that any of that stuff [last year] was a problem. It was business; that’s how it goes. It was just a little more of a high-profile deal since it was in the middle of the season. You just focus on what you need to do on the racetrack, and that’s all you can do.

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Mirror Driving: Mark Martin’s Big Move, Kevin Harvick’s Big Mistake, And NASCAR’s Big Attendance Problem

*Kevin Harvick's bonzai move at the end of the race at Infineon could be the difference between both he and Tony Stewart making the Chase three months from now. Was that move over the line, and does it paint the No. 29 team in the most trouble of all 17 Chase contenders?* Amy: I don't think Harvick was over the line, per se — it was an accident, not intentional — but it was a stupid move. And I blame him for having to watch that insufferable little puke taking a bow on the Start / Finish line. Tony: I don't think he was planning a bonzai move when he started. Harvick just got in over his head, which is a little surprising given his experience. Tommy: Harvick made a mistake — a bad one. Clearly, he was driving hard to clear Gilliland and just didn't get it slowed down in time. Not too late to recover, though.

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Marcos Ambrose Steals the Show, but McDowell Tops the Rookies at Sonoma

*Rookies in the Starting Lineup:* Marcos Ambrose (7th), Sam Hornish Jr. (17th), Ron Fellows (22nd), Max Papis (28th), Michael McDowell (34th), Patrick Carpentier (37th), Aric Almirola (40th), Brian Simo (43rd) *Unofficial Finishing Positions:* Michael McDowell (21st), Patrick Carpentier (24th), Aric Almirola (28th), Ron Fellows (29th), Sam Hornish Jr. (31st), Max Papis (35th), Marcos Ambrose (42nd), Brian Simo (43rd) *Rookie of the Race: Marcos Ambrose.* It was a wild weekend for the young Aussie who made his first career Sprint Cup start in the famed Wood Brothers Ford. On Friday, the road course ringer from down under impressed everyone with a Top 10 qualifying effort after leading first practice. Saturday was more of the same as Ambrose once again topped the charts in happy hour despite slapping the wall when he ran out of track. The No. 21 crew made repairs to the car while Ambrose flew to Milwaukee where he recorded a 16th place finish in his regular Nationwide ride…and all this was all before the main event had even stared.

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Beyond the Cockpit: Sam Hornish, Jr. Talks Freshman Year, Daytona Vs Indy, And More

_Sam Hornish, Jr. has had an up and down season in his first year of Sprint Cup competition driving the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge. One week, he's impressing us with a Top 20 finish at a track like Dover; the next, he can't get out of his own way -- or away from the wall -- at Pocono. But such is life for a rookie in the Cup Series these days; at least Hornish continues to take his lumps in stride as he goes through the adjustment period with his new, third team at Penske Racing._ _So, how does Hornish assess his season to this point? Which race does he find more challenging -- Daytona or Indy? And how old is too old to race? Find out the answers to these questions and more as Hornish joins us for this week's edition of Beyond The Cockpit._ *You had a good experience at this year’s Daytona 500, coming home with a good finish and your teammate won. If you were to win the Daytona 500, how would you rank that against your Indy 500 victory?* I think it would be pretty big just because I know how difficult it is. (Daytona) is very difficult because not only do you have to have a good car but you (also need) good friends and teammates to push you. So there are a lot of things that can keep you from winning it (Daytona 500) that are outside of your own (control). Also, to win it would mean that I was one of only three people to have won the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500. To be able to put your name beside the likes of Foyt and Andretti would make it very special, too. There are a lot of reasons why Daytona would be one of the biggest victories of my career if I could ever achieve that.

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Mirror Driving: Junior’s Pace Car Problem, Kyle Busch’s Solution, And NASCAR’s Tight-Lipped Meeting

*Dale Earnhardt, Jr. snapped a 76-race losing streak at Michigan on Sunday with a fuel mileage win; but should NASCAR have allowed Junior, who passed the pace car on more than one occasion in an effort to conserve fuel, to retain the top spot?* Kurt: Aye, this is a tough one. Whatever the penalty is for passing the pace car should have been applied. Tony: I don't think so, but I’m with Kurt -- I have yet to hear what the penalty _should’ve_ been. Amy: Yes and no. I agree with letting the win stand — sort of — but in that case, NASCAR needs to rewrite the rule. To your question Tony, 10-4-D is the exact violation from the NASCAR Rule Book: “Cars may not pass the caution vehicle unless directed to do so by a NASCAR official. Any cars illegally passing the caution vehicle or race leader will be black-flagged or repositioned at the discretion of NASCAR officials.” So, according to that, he should have been black-flagged.

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Sam Hornish, Jr. Spins, But Wins Rookie Honors At Home Track

*Rookies in the Starting Lineup:* _(Starting order set by owner points due to rain)_ Regan Smith (31st), Michael McDowell (33rd), Sam Hornish, Jr. (35th), Dario Franchitti (41st), Patrick Carpentier (43rd) *Unofficial Finishing Positions:* Sam Hornish, Jr. (22nd), Patrick Carpentier (24th), Regan Smith (32nd), Michael McDowell (37th), Dario Franchitti (43rd) *Rookie of the Race: Sam Hornish, Jr.* It didn’t take long for the Defiance, Ohio native to make his presence known at the venue he considers his home track on the NASCAR circuit. By the race’s one-quarter mark, Hornish, Jr. was running consistently in the Top 20 after starting well back in the pack. But as it turns out, the Mobil One team would be the strongest performer out of the Roger Penske stable, running in or near the Top 15 for Michigan's middle segment while his teammates floundered with poor handling cars and engine issues. However, things would get even more interesting for Hornish as the race entered its final stages.

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Mirror Driving: Cutting Pocono Down To Size, The Petty’s Investor Prize, And Keselowski’s Nashville Surprise

*Does Boston Ventures reportedly buying a controlling interest in Petty Enterprises signal a death knell for Petty’s involvement with the struggling team -- or will it breathe new life into an ailing organization?* Amy: I think that if they invest properly and keep the right people in the right places, Boston Ventures could help. Bryan: I don’t care what that team does; until Kyle gets out of the No. 45 Petty Enterprises won’t be moving up much more. Mike: It’s hard to say. Gillett has certainly breathed life into Evernham.

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Michael McDowell Magically Maneuvers To Top At Pocono

*Rookies in the Starting Lineup:* Regan Smith (4th), Dario Franchitti (14th), Patrick Carpentier (24th), Michael McDowell (39th), Sam Hornish Jr. (41st) *Unofficial Finishing Positions:* Michael McDowell (27th), Regan Smith (28th), Patrick Carpentier (32nd), Dario Franchitti (41st), Sam Hornish Jr. (42nd) *Rookie of the Race: Michael McDowell.* The young rookie driving for Michael Waltrip Racing was barely heard from all day until when it counted – at the end. Michael McDowell started the day in 39th and spent most the race on the tail end of the pack, trying to figure out how these Cup cars drive on the track he won at in ARCA just last year.

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Mirror Driving: A Busch-Edwards Rivalry? Truck Series Prospects? And Judging The Season At Halfway …

*After their 1-2 finish at Dover — the second time it's happened in the last month — people have been quick to point to Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards as "the next great rivalry." Do you agree with that statement, or is there another one that sticks out in your minds that's far more combative?* Amy: I don't know if it's so much a rivalry as it is nobody else can get the CoT that good. Neither of them is _that_ much better than the rest of the Top 10 in points. They just have better cars. Mike: Busch/Edwards would be a great rivalry if Carl really cared about it. He doesn't like losing, but he and Busch haven't had a close duel yet. Tony: It’s Kyle vs. Junior in the minds of the fans – not Kyle vs Edwards. I agree with Mike that those two really don't even seem to acknowledge each other. There’s no bad blood there yet. I think you need two fiery personalities to create a good rivalry, and Carl is pretty laid back.

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Sprint Cup Rookie Report: Sam Hornish, Jr. Continues Momentum at the Monster Mile

*Rookies in the Starting Lineup:* Sam Hornish, Jr. (16th), Regan Smith (29th), Michael McDowell (32nd), Patrick Carpentier (36th) *Unofficial Finishing Positions:* Sam Hornish, Jr. (18th), Regan Smith (21st), Patrick Carpentier (29th), Michael McDowell (30th) *Rookie of the Race: Sam Hornish, Jr.* The Rookie of the Year race remained tight coming out of Dover, as Hornish overcame a lap 68 pit road speeding penalty to record his second consecutive Top 20 finish -- continuing to capitalize on momentum achieved following two weeks at Lowe's.

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