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Voice Of Vito

The Best Of The Frontstretch: 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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Hendrick Motorsports: A Decade of Dominance … And Then Some

This weekend in Homestead, one thing is for certain: Hendrick Motorsports will be the team that captures the 2007 Nextel Cup. It will be the organization's sixth championship, tying the Charlotte car dealer with Junior Johnson and Richard Childress for second all-time on the NASCAR owner's title list.Who the driver is that actually _wins_ the title remains to be seen; but in the case of Hendrick, does it really make a difference? No matter which driver comes out ahead, he'll still remain the owner clearly positioned at or near the top of the stock car racing world.It's hard to believe that Hendrick Motorsports has reached the pinnacle of motorsports in North America after coming from such humble beginnings in the early 1980's. Back then, All-Star Racing was a fledgling yet burgeoning race team, coming of age right about the same time that NASCAR began to emerge from the Southeast and gain national exposure. Chemung, New York native Geoff Bodine was the team's first driver, and he wasted no time in getting the team some much wanted attention. In fact, he helped All-Star racing win in only its eighth start in 1984; it was a harbinger of things to come, as the groundwork was being laid for the largest and most successful racing operation in the modern era - and potentially the history of - the sport.

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Change For The Better: Helping The CoT From Becoming a PoS

It's no secret that I am not a fan of the Car of Tomorrow. Just saying the phrase elicits certain feelings: Anger. Spite. Loathing. Still ... as much as I would love to sit here and rail against it for another 1500 words, I have made peace with the fact that it is here to stay, and you should, too. Call it what you will - a work in progress or mechanical cruelty - but there's no denying this is the vehicle that will represent NASCAR for well into the next decade. With this weekend's race at Phoenix being the last for the Car of Tomorrow's initial foray into competition, we thought it would be a good time to reflect on the car, how it has performed to date, and what can be done to help make racing better for both the fans and the drivers - before these things go full-time in 2008.First off, we'll start with competition. You'd be hard pressed to argue the new car started off with more than its fair share of good finishes. Kyle Busch and Jeff Burton battled down to the last lap in the CoT's debut at Bristol back in March; the margin of victory then? A microscopic .064 seconds...

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2007: The Year The Biscuit Wheels Came Off The Gravy Train For Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Following this past weekend's race at Texas Motor Speedway, the championship chase tightened considerably between points leader Jeff Gordon and teammate Jimmie Johnson. However, there is one irrefutable fact that has been reinforced from the 2007 season: The wheels have come off Dale Earnhardt, Junior's season.Literally.Heading into the final restart with two laps to go, it appeared that the DE in DEI was finally going to break through for his first win since the Crown Royal 400 at Richmond, way back in June of 2006. As Junior hung the No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo on the white line through turn one, it appeared as if he was going to clear Carl Edwards and have at least a shot at catching Jimmie Johnson.At least, for a moment.

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Getting Their Just Desserts – NASCAR Driver Earnings Finally Matching Those Of Other Major Athletes

Ernest Hemingway once said that, "Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports ... all others are games."All decade long, we've heard such age-old discussion of how NASCAR drivers stack up to the athletic performances of the stick 'n' ball sports: Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NHL, and the NBA. You can go back and forth on that question for ages; but in the end, you'll never be able to test athletes on the same athletic skill that makes them so great. However, there's another area where direct comparison _is_ readily available; it's a mode of financial number crunching that goes far beyond physical talent laid out on a track, a football field, or a baseball diamond, one that gives you an idea of just how much one man measures up against another.It's the checkbook.

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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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