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Voice Of Vito

Time’s Up: NASCAR Drivers Nearing The End of The Line

There are few things as inspiring as the athlete who refuses to give up and keeps fighting under the most overwhelming of odds and circumstances. Willis Reed trotting out on a broken leg during the NBA Finals, Curt Schilling pitching through a bum ankle and bloody sock in the World Series, or Ronnie Lott choosing to cut off part of his finger to get back into a game against the Dallas Cowboys. You can stamp Man’s Game on all of the above.Then there is the case of those who maybe stick around too long, or should step aside and give somebody else a crack at it. NASCAR is no exception; there are a few drivers who are tied in and have immunized themselves from outside competition, or are able to land rides by being able to provide sponsorship.

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What I Really Wish We Would See at The Brickyard 400…

This weekend brings us the 18th running of The Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. What once was always seen as just a rung below the Daytona 500, the most prestigious race in the series, the name and image of the 2.5-mile Rectoval situated in the middle of a neighborhood in Speedway, Indiana has become a bit blemished in recent years. From crowds spread as thin as the cords on a fried Goodyear tire, to competition that is less than Talladegaesque, Indy needs a few prayers and intentions sent its way. With that, I have put together my own wish list for this weekend’s action from Indianapolis.

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Crew Chief Revolving Doors: Could The No. 48’s Pit Crew Be Next?

Take heart, 4-ha8ters! After another festival of failures on pit road, the cracks are starting to show in the Five-Time champions. The sky is falling, Jimmie’s bawling, and Chad is crawling back to start, trying to figure out a way to salvage the season before the Chase starts.Since 2002, what had been the hallmark of the Lowe’s racing franchise was the competency of the pit crew, and their obsessive-compulsive pursuit for precision and perfection has devolved into a weekly comedy of errors and horrors whenever Johnson comes to get tires and fuel.

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2011: The Year of the (Lame) Duck?

I have a favorite sarcastic saying I like to use whenever somebody starts with the litany of how hard something is, bemoaning their struggle and lot in life.“It’s too hard. You should probably just give up and quit.”That saying came to mind this week when I was tasked with detailing the plight of the newest NASCAR phenomenon: The Lame Duck Driver.Many times in politics, you will hear this term used, often in the second half of a President’s term if not up for re-election, or before midterm elections in Congress (a sad commentary in and of itself for elected officials who are squandering our precious resources). But these ugly words, too could be said for drivers who are in the final year of a contract with a team, particularly if it is one they are less than fond of. When you're faced with a job coming to a close, it's sometimes natural for people, along with those around them to relax, lose focus, and give less than 100 percent. But is that phenomenon happening within the wave of NASCAR's group of "lame ducks?"

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Don’t Shoot The Messenger: Earnhardt Asks Journalists for Their Opinion

I have been ordered by the most powerful man in NASCAR to write this article.Before Saturday night's edict, I was going to unleash a startling expose on the current perilous economic state of the sport, with facts, figures, and even a multi-colored pie chart. Instead, the gauntlet was thrown down after the race (I have never seen a gauntlet; however, I am confident it was cast with authority). The aggressor? None other than Dale Earnhardt, Jr., excitable to say the least when asked his opinion of the style of racing at restrictor plate tracks.

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Voice of Vito: Room For One More – Road Courses Prove Their Place in NASCAR

I know that as I sit down to write this article, I am in the minority. No, not because of my name, but because I like road racing in NASCAR. I do feel a bit vindicated however, as this past weekend’s events in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series proved why we need more of them, and why there needs to be a road course in the Chase for the Championship. With as much beating, banging, and retribution that took place over two days, road courses have in fact become what short track racing used to be in NASCAR.Sure, this kind of story has been regurgitated before, and usually pops up the week before / after Infineon or Watkins Glen. The arguments for are as follows: Every type of track should be represented in the final ten races to determine the champion, and only one style of track is currently missing (a road course), and for a driver to be a true champion of a series, he should be well-versed in all types and disciplines of racing in the series, not just be with a team that has a lights-out intermediate track program.

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Up In Smoke: Yunick’s Hall of Fame Legacy Burns in Daytona Beach

On Monday April 25th, 2011 a piece of NASCAR history was lost forever.The remainder of NASCAR legend Henry “Smokey” Yunick’s shop – aka, “The Best Damn Garage In Town” was destroyed by fire in Daytona Beach, Florida. It is sad, to say the least that yet another of NASCAR’s founding fathers' legacies has been lost. With the announcements soon forthcoming for the next Hall of Fame class, it was unlikely that Yunick would have been included – although he would have likely been part of the discussion.

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Three Teams on The Verge of Victory and Utter Panic

The 2011 season remains a crapshoot as to who is in and who is out as far as qualifying for the title Chase. That all takes on more of a sense of importance this weekend as the motorsports version of the Alabama State Lottery is held at Talladega on Sunday. Choose wisely, and you can find yourself eking out a win by a bumper at the stripe. Drive around minding your own business, and you may find yourself in a junkyard full of $300,000 apiece stock cars.There is never any rhyme or reason to the mayhem that awaits the field of 43 at Talladega, nor is there rhyme or reason for this trio below. These three drivers are all weekly contenders, find themselves at different places in the point standings, yet are strangely similar in their collective underachievement thus far, walking a tightrope for one reason or another of breaking through and winning races... or breaking down big time and fumbling away championship seasons.

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Quantity Vs. Quality – Comparing The Nationwide Records of Martin and Busch

Kyle Busch won last year’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway in his typical dominant fashion, leading 153 laps but needing to hold off teammate Joey Logano after passing him for the lead with 24 laps to go. That's how the Nationwide Series has gone for Busch, domineering the competition while entering this weekend’s event with 46 wins - just three shy of the division's all-time leader, Mark Martin. Martin has conceded in recent weeks that Kyle Busch will likely pass him for the record over the course of the next couple of months, and seems rather resigned if not nonplussed by the matter.Well, as so often is the case when comparing different drivers and their accomplishments from different eras, the inevitable question that arises from their changing of the guard is simple: which driver’s record and wins mean more?

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Five Races, Five Contenders: Who’s Stood Out To Take The Cup Title In 2011

Normally, following an event at Auto Club Speedway you would tune in here to read me rail and rant about how the racing sucked, nobody was there, and how wheeling stock cars in Southern California makes about as much sense as moving an NFL team there again.Instead, a late-race battle between some of the sport's biggest heavyweights changes the storyline entirely. In fact, you could make an argument that each of the emerging favorites to contend for this year's 2011 Cup title ran inside the top 10 for most of Sunday. Who are they, what makes them stand out, and why will each maintain their position close to the top of the points mountain? Scale the next few paragraphs with me to discover the answers for who's going to barge into championship contention the second this year's Chase begins in September.

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