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Voice Of Vito

NASCAR Fans : Still Reviled Among The Elite

One of the biggest gripes about the new Chase for The Championship in NASCAR is not so much a break from tradition, but to what it represents: pandering to the masses. Every week, be it during the race, NASCAR themed shows, or in print, constant comparisons are made to other sports, drawing parallels between their post-season and the new "playoff" format that was introduced for the 2004 season. NASCAR has a tremendous amount of time, money, and effort invested trying to change the reputation and image of NASCAR. What was once thought of as a regional sport born of moonshiners and bootleggers, had grown to the one of the most popular sports in the nation, ranking second only behind the NFL in attendance and ratings. Surely NASCAR had succeeded in winning the hearts and minds of the public at large.That is unless you work in our nation's capitol.

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Much Ado About Nothing At Kansas: Attempting To Create Controversy Where There Is None

The Chase for the NEXTEL Cup is now three weeks old, and there is yet to emerge a dominant or favored contender to win the 2007 championship in NASCAR's elite division. Mainly because everyone keeps wrecking. One would think that might be a talking point as we move 1/3 of the way through the title chase. However, the biggest story coming out of Kansas this week was Greg Biffle winning the Lifelock 400.Or not winning the Lifelock 400 if you ask Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer.As NASCAR arbitrarily shortened the race a couple of times following the 2nd rain delay of the event, Greg Biffle held a lead a little over 1 second ahead of 2nd place finisher and home-state hero, Clint Bowyer. After Juan Montoya's tire ripped apart everything in the left front wheel of his Havoline Dodge Charger, the caution came out, the field was frozen, and the race was completed under caution.

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2007: The Worst NASCAR Season Ever

I may be in the minority here (my heritage notwithstanding), but for many reasons, to me this season has been one of the worst in recent memory for NASCAR.Perhaps ever.To look back on it that way is quite disappointing - especially since 2007 started out with so much promise. There was the addition of a new manufacturer in Toyota, a new face in the form of a former Formula One superstar, and the network that started the ball of unencumbered growth rolling in the mid 1980's was about to take over NASCAR coverage again. _And_, if all that wasn't enough, for the first time since 1981, a new breed of car was about to hit the track.Then the season actually started.

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Mustangs, Camaros, and Challengers, Oh My! Busch Series To Ponycars in 2009?

"The Car of Tomorrow sucks."No, that's not Kyle Busch's quote. It's not even Tony Stewart's.It's mine.I hate the Car of Tomorrow. I physically hate it. As British automotive journalist Jeremy Clarkson might say, "It is wayward, its front splitter is utter rubbish, and the rear wing is stupid." A series that once celebrated and thrived on ingenuity, differentiation, and brand identification has now devolved into a bastardized IROC series, starring the ugliest thing this side of an El Camino. While NASCAR's premier division continues to plod along, refusing to input changes to a wholly unlikable car that have been pleaded for by competitors, there was some question as to when the CoT would make its way to the "middle" division in NASCAR, the soon-to-be-former Busch Series.It won't.

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Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Martin Truex, Jr. : How To Handle The Chase for The Championship

The 2007 Chase for The Nextel Cup is finally upon us. With the "drama" that surrounded last week's Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond a thing of the past, most fans have now begun to speculate how the twelve title contenders are shaping up to make their run at the title. There is, however, another budding story in the garage as the dust begins to settle. While Dale Earnhardt, Jr. missed making the big show for the second time in three years, his teammate, two-time Busch Grand National Champion Martin Truex, Jr. has made it instead, getting over the hump in just his sophomore season behind the wheel of a Cup car.Heading into the first race of the Chase at Loudon, New Hampshire, Truex sits sixth in points; the seeding system NASCAR has instituted for 2007 has him and five others sitting just 50 points out of the championship lead. It's a track the No. 1 team is happy to see; Truex led 46 laps en route to a third-place run at Loudon back on July 1st, just a month after his first career Nextel Cup victory at Dover. That dominating performance at The Monster Mile (216 out of 400 laps led) will bode well for him, as it happens to be the next race in the Chase after Loudon.

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Where’s The Beef? Chase For The Championship A Far Cry From Past Battles

With only one race remaining before the start of the 2007 Chase for the Nextel Cup, the race for 12th place has all been but decided, with Kevin Harvick needing to only finish 32nd or better to solidify his place in the Championship dash. While the Daytona 500 winner will start the race a whopping 670 points out of 1st place, he will end it no more than 50 points out of the top spot, courtesy of NASCAR's new seeding system, awarding 10 bonus points for a win to each driver in the top 12. Which raises a legitimate question:What exactly does a 700-point deficit convey anything remotely related to the term "Champion"? Is this what it has come to? "The race for 12th"?

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Blew By You: Kurt Busch Making A Case For Legitimate Title Contender…Turning Bud Fans Blue In The Process

_Editor's Note : Jeff Meyer is on vacation, so his usual Voices From The Heartland column will not be run. Look for a new version to return next week; in the meantime, The Voice Of Vito's Vito Pugliese proves a fine subsititute with his special column of the week._With only three races remaining before the 2007 Chase for The Championship begins, the question of who will be the final qualifier for the ten-race playoff became a little more clear on a foggy and soggy Tuesday afternoon in Brooklyn, Michigan. For the second time in three races, Kurt Busch drove the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger to Victory Lane, in a performance that, while not nearly as dominating as his win two weeks earlier at Pocono, was convincing nonetheless that a playoff push has come ever closer to paying off.Need proof? Well, Busch is now just 157 points behind younger brother Kyle, eighth in points - making him closer to moving up than moving out of Chase contention. Behind him, he leads Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by 163 and stablemate Ryan Newman by 171 in the quest to claim the 12th and final spot in this year's championship battle.

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Kyle Busch: Giving 110% for a Great Opportunity…And Other Favorite Cliches

In recent years the terminology surrounding what exactly NASCAR "is" has changed. In an effort to join the ranks of recognized traditional stink-and-ball competition, NASCAR was often referred to as a "Sport". After all, it fit all of the requirements of "Sport": Hand to eye coordination, teamwork, operating under a great deal of stress in an environment of extremes; climate, proximity, auditory and sensory.Plus you can die doing it. Hemingway is often quoted "there are only three true sports: mountain climbing, bullfighting and motor racing. All the rest are children's games that grown-ups play."In recent years however as the "Sport" has grown, a new term has emerged to describe our beloved pastime: "Business". As unsavory as that might sound, racing exists because of sponsors, and our favorite drivers and makes of cars are indeed pitchmen and very loud billboards. With this "business" aspect, comes some of the cliches that accompany corporate America as well. I was reminded of this a number of times during Kyle Busch's announcement that he will join Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008, as driver of the No. 18 machines fielded by Coach Gibbs.

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The Best There Could Have Been – Driven To The Past: Tim Richmond

Tim Richmond came into NASCAR reminiscent of the way so many do today. He got his start in open wheel racing by testing a sprint car for a friend and wound up turning laps faster than the regular driver. At the age of 21, that brief test had him hooked and soon after he won the USAC Rookie of The Year in 1978. Two years later he moved to big time open wheel racing, competing in the Indianapolis 500 in 1980, finishing ninth after running out of fuel. Driving for car owner D.K. Ulrich, he would make his NASCAR debut at Pocono later that year -- a track where some of his most memorable, yet heart-breaking memories would be made.

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Pat Tryson: The Right Man, Right Time For Kurt Busch

"Pat, buddy, where have you been all my life?!"No, that wasn't Kurt Busch speaking to new crew chief Pat Tryson following their Sunday victory at Pocono...although it easily could have been. Instead, it was Busch's former Roush Racing teammate Mark Martin, words spoken following Martin and Tryson's first race together at Phoenix in 2003. The joy expressed from that fateful day proved a telling insight into what would be a successful future between the two men...a future that Tryson appears ready to relive through the potential of a younger, rising talent.

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