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Voice Of Vito

What’s The Point? New Points System Proving It’s Not Much Different Than The Old

The 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season got off to a swimmingly strong start with an unpredictable Daytona 500, a good race at Phoenix, and a palatable Las Vegas event. Bristol was a bit underwhelming, what with the 13 days of hype leading up to it leaving many nonplussed over a race that has turned into a shadow of its former self. Credit either the new track layout or Kyle Busch’s dominance, this Sunday's event was a snoozer for many; however, I'm told it dealt a bigger blow than you'd think to many expected Chase contenders. Most are quick to point out that those off to a slow start might be sunk already, what with the new point system that has been implemented for 2011.I know, I know; we’re only four races deep, why start the obsessing all ready over the Sprint to the Chase of the Cup…or whatever they’re calling it these days? But every race does count (for the first 26 at least) towards the title, and points earned or lost in race four are every bit as valuable as those in race 25.

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Car & Driver: What Made Bristol And NASCAR Great During The 1990s

In my, uh, "reading quarters" there sits a dog-earned issue of Car & Driver Magazine from July of 2009 that features a retro muscle car comparison between a Chevrolet Camaro SS, Ford Mustang GT and the Dodge Challenger R/T. Of the Hemi Orange Mopar they tagged with the phrase, “it stirs up sugary memories like a big orange stick in a cotton-candy machine.”That phrase certainly comes to mind whenever a Bristol race is on the docket, as it is this weekend in Eastern Tennessee. While the Spring race does not command the same excitement and demand as its sister race at night in August – credit chances of snow and cold seats – it is a race that has seen more than its fair share of memorable moments throughout the years. Many of these were during what I consider the Golden Age of the modern NASCAR Era, the 1990s. The decade that came to define our sport served to elevate stock car racing to the pinnacle of motorsports in North America.

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Three Races, A Trio Of Big Names Making Waves In NASCAR Nation

OK, let’s get these out of the way first: Roll the dice, hit it big, jackpot, aces high, what you know about seven and always bet on black.These are the only stupid Las Vegas clichés you will read in this article.With Vegas playing host to the third event of the year, it is also a time to sit and reflect about a season that's already one-twelfth complete. It precedes an off-week for both Sprint Cup and Nationwide schedules, and can help carry some much needed momentum through the Spring stretch that traditionally separates pretenders from contenders in the points race.

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Daytona Delusions, Short Track Semantics and Cliched Catch Phrases

With the Sprint Cup Series having left Daytona after two weeks to kick off the year, it headed west to the desert of Arizona for the first “real” race of 2011. By real I mean, handling, downforce and the lack of somebody pushing your car forward deciding the ultimate outcome of the event. While Daytona is an animal of its own, it can also serve as an anomaly to rest of the Sprint Cup season, and this past weekend was no different.*Reality Check*A downforce desert race has a way of putting things in perspective after a plate race. The focus this past weekend in Phoenix went from pressure relief valves and grille openings to brake cooling and handling.

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Throwback or Throw Up? Plate Racing Realities Going Forward

For 2011's Daytona Speedweeks, it was feared that the 500 was going to be a crushing bore of a race. Either two-car tandems were going to streak away from the field, said most experts, or the required constant push-drafting would trigger multi-car incidents that would decimate half the field of 43 cars.As it turned out, they were partially right, wrecks and drafting partnerships defining how the Great American Race was run. But, looking back were those circumstances enough to sour NASCAR's Super Bowl?

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P-P-Push It Real Good: Restrictor Plate Realities Exposed

Well here we are, the day before the Gatorade Duel 150-mile qualifying races to help set the field for the Daytona 500 – and yet there is a palatable sense of pessimism in the air.I very well may just be mistaking that for being here in Michigan, having endured three straight months of winter which have conspired to dump a foot-and-a-half of snow in less than 24 hours, followed by consistent single-digit temperatures – but most of it centers around what was on display Saturday night during the Bud Shootout, and what it means for tomorrow's races and Sunday’s Daytona 500.

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NASCAR Turns To Mario Kart To Determine Sprint Cup Champion

With the dawn of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season just a few weeks away, NASCAR decided to change the rules – yet again – at the very last minute.For the fourth time in less than ten seasons, the format used to decide the champion has changed once more. There were rumblings of something happening regarding the ranking system used throughout last year, expanding the Chase field to 15, more points for winning, a wild card entry (just like the NFL!), among a myriad of other subtle tweaks and changes. So at the 11th hour, in the midst of NASCAR Pre-Season Thunder media tour, NASCAR unveiled their new points system.

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Voice of Vito: 2010 Season In Review – Final Thoughts on NASCAR’s Grand Finale

Wow. After 36 weeks the 2010 NASCAR season is now a memory. There were many memorable moments this year that stand out, an indelible image burned from each one. Jamie McMurray winning the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 ... Denny Hamlin hobbling to his car a week after knee surgery ... Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton slap fighting on the backstretch at Texas, then taking a ride together about ten seconds later.Oh, yeah, and Jimmie Johnson winning his fifth consecutive title.Yeah I know, I picked Hamlin to win it by the narrowest of margins a couple of weeks back, but let’s all be honest here – are any of us really that surprised that the No. 48 team won? This past Sunday brought about a number of final thoughts regarding the final weekend of the 2010 season, as well as what 2011 and beyond might hold.

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Hamlin, Johnson, Harvick – Pros And Cons For The Title Contenders

NASCAR has finally gotten its wish.After the inaugural Chase season of 2004 produced one of the most memorable championship battles in history, one that literally went down to the last lap of the last race, the final event at Homestead on Sunday is going to be just that — a race.With just 15 points separating leader Denny Hamlin and defending four-time Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson, it’s going to come down to who finishes in front of whom and who can lead the most laps. No use in either of these two being conservative. If they want to win the title, it is going to require racing for 400 miles, not riding, because waiting in the wings is the third driver in the equation, Kevin Harvick.

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Back to the Future: Pit Crew Swap For No. 48 Team Foreshadows A Monumental Meltdown

In 2005, Jimmie Johnson left Texas Motor Speedway 38 points behind eventual champion Tony Stewart with only two races remaining. 14 days later, that Chase culminated in Johnson driving around on a flat tire for two laps before backing it into the wall. The friction between driver and crew chief nearly tore them apart, and led to the now infamous “milk and cookies” meeting with team owner Rick Hendrick.Five years later, Johnson and Knaus find themselves behind current leader Denny Hamlin and crew chief Mike Ford’s No. 11 Toyota team. The Lowe’s Hendrick Motorsports team could never seem to consistently beat the Joe Gibbs Racing team during that 2005 campaign, and in 2010 history appears to be repeating itself, albeit with a different opposing driver and crew chief from the JGR stables – and now, apparently, a new pit crew for the No. 48.

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