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Voice Of Vito

Mark Martin and Dale Jr. – Bringing Two Teams Together From Worlds Apart

With Thursday’s Gatorade Duel serving to set the field for the 52nd annual Daytona 500 this Sunday, only the front row was locked in from last Saturday’s qualifying. Mark Martin, at 51 years of age, became the oldest driver to win the pole for The Great American Race, with a speed of 191.188 mph. His 47.074-second lap just narrowly eclipsed that of teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .068 seconds – not unlike practice a day earlier, when Earnhardt ran a lap .016 seconds ahead of Martin.No big surprise, really. After all, it was an edict from on high that the Nos. 5 and 88 Hendrick Chevrolets were to be built as close to identical as humanly possible for the Super Bowl of stock car racing.

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Felix Sabates Michigan Comments Spark Outrage – And Acceptance

"I mean, there's nobody left in Detroit other than the police and the unemployed," Sabates told the _Charlotte Observer_ in an interview. "I'd cut Michigan off the schedule altogether. Michigan — I'm talking about the state — is never coming back to what it used to be, so why go there and throw good money after bad money?"Ouch. Talk about kicking a man when he’s down... then white-washing him in a snow bank and taking his mittens.

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Keeping It Real: Nationwide Series Finale Raises Some Eyebrows – and Hopes For The Future

Denny Hamlin had quite a weekend in Florida. He won his fourth race of the year, spun a guy out, and declared himself the next threat to Jimmie Johnson’s “Drive for Five” championship quest. But while Johnson’s fourth consecutive Sprint Cup is the talk of the NASCAR world this week -- either because of its historical significance or by simply convincing skeptics through constant repetition of the same message -- the real race of the weekend was held the day before, in the Nationwide Series Ford 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. NASCAR’s second-tier division served up a beauty of a nightcap, and did so amid a backdrop of racing that recalled a simpler time and an on-track incident that, while eyebrow-raising at first, seemed a bit contrived upon further reflection.

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Jimmie Johnson: Continuing To Dominate In Spite of a Dreaded Disease

With Jimmie Johnson on the brink of winning his fourth consecutive Sprint Cup Championship, one thing stands out as he and the No. 48 Lowe’s team prepare to make history this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway:Nobody really cares.That is, no one outside of Hendrick Motorsports, his fan base, or the media at large. Listen to any number of call-in shows, forum postings, or column comments on this site or any other, and the fan interest ranks somewhere up there with standing in line to jam your fist into a beehive. This select group may just be “the haters” that Jimmie dedicated his 2006 Daytona 500 victory to ... but their membership is hitting record numbers.

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Broadcasting Brillance – My Picks For An All-Star Commentating Crew

The 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season is nearly over with Jimmie Johnson still responsible for his engine turning over next Sunday at Homestead-Miami speedway for the mercy killing of the 2009 season and Chase for The Championship. Stat dorks have their calculators running overtime right now, trying to conjure up …

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Texas Race a Snapshot of What Could Have Been For Many Drivers in 2009

As the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress whistled over the grandstands during the flyover at Texas Motor Speedway this Sunday, I felt the same warm and fuzzy feeling I did as the season began nine months ago in Daytona Beach, Florida. Maybe that’s just because I’m the son of an H-model mechanic and a sucker for Cold War airpower. Bearing witness to the majestic instrument of what once was Strategic Air Command – the most ominous military enterprise ever assembled – with Veteran’s Day just around the corner, coupled with the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down, I had ample reason to feel a swelling of pride and a tickle of the adrenal glands. For while celebrating the humiliating defeat of communism, as well as honoring those lost in yet another tragic event on our soil days earlier at Ft. Hood, the sights and sounds of the pre-race ceremony helped honor and recognize the events of the previous 60 years.Along those same lines, the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway this past weekend in some way served as a microcosm for the entire 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

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Talladega Troubles Self-Imposed By NASCAR

Three days following this past Sunday’s most recent unmitigated disaster at Talladega, most of the pundits have by now offered their assessment of what transpired over the weekend. Some dismissed it as just another plate race, others say it is nothing we haven’t seen before, and some are content to brush it off using the most convenient cop-out in our lexicon these days: “It is what it is.”Having had a chance to let these heightened emotions settle and my elevated Italian blood pressure subside, I’ve had a chance to read all of the quotes, review the race again, and have reached my own conclusion:Things have gotten way out of frigging control.

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Johnson’s Fourth Title In Striking Distance, Yet Talladega Remains a Game Changer

In last Wednesday's edition of "_The Voice of Vito_,":https://frontstretch.com/vpugliese/28038/ I stated my grievance with the media at large for celebrating the coronation of Jimmie Johnson as the 2009 Sprint Cup Champion following his third straight Chase victory at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. I did my best to channel the spirit of Dennis Green and his well-known “If you’re going to crown them, then crown their ass!” rant while coach of the Phoenix Cardinals. With righteous indignation, I dismissed the stories and articles that were celebrating Johnson’s fourth straight championship before even half of the races had been run as being lazy and irresponsible. So, what happened?Right, Jimmie Johnson made me look like an idiot. Dominating Martinsville, he led 164 of the first 362 laps before finishing second to Denny Hamlin at the very end. At least he had the decency to not win and completely embarrass me.

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Media Crowning Johnson Champion Halfway Through Chase Lazy and Irresponsible

My uncle owns and operates an industrial lighting company, and has an interesting way of motivating people. Whenever they express the futility of the task at hand, he comes back and says, “You should probably just give up and quit, man. It’s too hard.”Somehow, I think the rest of the media does not have that reverse psychology or that air of thinly veiled sarcasm in mind when they repeatedly state that the championship Chase has all but been decided, and that the final five races – half of the playoffs – are all but a formality for the No. 48 team of Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus.

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Danica Patrick, NASCAR, and IndyCar: Motorsports’ Torrid Love Triangle Heats Up

Ah, the torrid love triangle. It is the thing of tawdry soap operas, trashy romance novels, and maybe even the topic of water cooler conversation involving your co-workers. Now, coming to a racetrack near you, it is the recurring theme and headline of many a motorsports article. This one is no different, for even I have succumbed to the drama gripping the two top series in American racing.No doubt, the trio has made one heck of a movie trailer this year: "Danica Patrick, the IndyCar Series, and NASCAR." Coming soon to a theater near you, it's the all-consuming romance that threatens to tear each racing series apart.

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