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Tracking the Trucks : Ford 200

*In a Nutshell:* Johnny Benson took the checkered flag 0.600 seconds ahead of Kyle Busch to win the Truck Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway Friday night. A late spin by Chris Jones set the field up for a green/white/checkered finish for the sixth time in 2007; on the restart, Benson took the lead coming to the white flag and held off Busch for the victory. Rick Crawford, Kevin Harvick, and Jason Leffler rounded out the Top 5 finishers. Behind them, Ron Hornaday, Jr. finished 7th to clinch the 2007 Truck Series title over Mike Skinner; Skinner had mechanical problems with the left rear wheel of his Toyota, went behind the wall for repairs and wound up 35th, handing the title to his rival by 54 points.*Who Should Have Won: Kyle Busch.* Busch started 14th, and looked like he might struggle most of the race early on. A round of green flag pit stops put him a lap down, but the driver of the No. 51 Miccosukee Resorts Chevrolet got it back through a timely yellow flag; after that, he went on to lead 69 laps. However, the poor luck of a green/white/checkered kept Busch from winning his third race in four starts; with the Trucks bunched up at the finish, he was far too loose to hold Benson back for the win.

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White Flag: Junior’s Last Lap at DEI

It seems like a lifetime ago, and in a way, it was.It's hard to believe that it's been almost a decade since Dale Earnhardt, Jr. came onto the scene as a then Winston Cup rookie with a heck of a name to live up to. He was a likeable young kid who liked to party and have a good time and race on Sunday. He didn't seem to be in any hurry to grow up, and that was okay. He was determined to be his own person, free of the shadow of his father, a seven-time Cup champion and a racing legend.But Dale Earnhardt cast a long shadow, and his death in February 2001 forced Junior to grow up overnight. Driving for the organization his father built for him, Earnhardt, Jr. proved his prowess on the racetrack with seventeen wins to date. After his father's death, Junior wanted to uphold the reputation of Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated on the track and was successful, as were teammates Steve Park and Michael Waltrip. Everything was turning up roses, and there was no reason to believe that the Earnhardt name on the sign outside wouldn't be carried on inside the shop as well for years to come, with Junior racing the red No. 8 for as long as he wanted to race at NASCAR's top level.

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Tearing Apart the Trucks : The Final Showdown

This is it. This is what you've been waiting all season for. Tonight, someone is going to be crowned the 2007 Craftsman Truck Series Champion. In the very first "battle of the grandfathers" Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Mike Skinner will face off for the final time. Going into the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Skinner holds only a slim 29-point advantage over Hornaday, Jr.Mike Skinner found himself tied for the points lead after just the second race of the season, and he spent the following 14 races atop the standings. Prior to the running of the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 200 at Gateway International Raceway, the driver of the No. 5 Toyota Tundra held a 92 point lead over Ron Hornaday, Jr, but a shredded tire relegated Skinner to a 28th place finish. That gave Hornaday, Jr. his first lead of the season by just four points.

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Driven To The Past: Yeah, Here Come The Rooster…..Ricky Rudd

*Name:* Ricky Rudd *Birthdate:* September 12, 1956 *Hometown:* Chesapeake, Virginia *Nextel Cup Debut:* 1975 Carolina 500 - Rockingham, NC *Races:* 905 *Wins:* 23 *Poles:* 29 *Top Fives:* 194 *Top Tens:* 374 *Earnings:* $44,401,043 * stats as of 11/15/2007*Career Highlights:* Nickname: Rooster. 1977 Winston Cup Rookie of The Year. NASCAR's Iron Man - holds record for most consecutive starts with 788; ranks 2nd in total starts only to Richard Petty. Tied with Rusty Wallace for most consecutive seasons with at least one win (16). Winning at least one race each year from 1983-1998. Winner of the 1997 Brickyard 400. 1992 IROC champion. Named as one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.

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Rick Crawford Driver Diary: Home Sweet Homestead

I've been in Florida all week doing some interesting things. Tuesday we kicked it off with the Ford Ride n'Drive where we give rides around Homestead Miami Speedway in the Ford Cup two-seaters to over 30 South Florida Ford dealers. One of the sales managers got in the car with me and wanted to video tape the deal with a handheld video camera. He caught me laughing in my helmet when he started up the video camera and I just kept laughing and by the time we got to the end of pit road the video camera was in his lap so that didn't work out too good. It was funny. I guess he thought he'd have home video so he could show it at Christmas time or something but it didn't work out. Maybe he got he sound on the inside of the car anyway.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Driver Handicaps : Ford 400

*Jimmie Johnson* - Johnson has Top 10 finishes in four of his six starts at Homestead, including a second place result scored here in 2004. For those looking for a little drama, Johnson did crash out here in 2005 en route to 40th place.*Jeff Gordon* - Gordon has Top 10 finishes in six of eight Cup races at Homestead, producing an average finishing position of eleventh. His best run here was third in 2004.*Clint Bowyer* - Bowyer finished tenth here last year in his only Homestead Cup start. He started the Chase with a victory; can he end it with one as well?

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NASCAR Stuff We Can’t Make Up

- Before last week's race in Phoenix, I got an email from NASCAR.com entitled, "The Chase continues at Phoenix International Speedway." It was an opt-in email that included information about the schedule for TrackPass, items for sale in the NASCAR.com Superstore, and so forth. But I think there's a reason that the folks who built the Phoenix track named it "Phoenix International Raceway" and not "Phoenix International Speedway" - as it's called in this email. PIR is an acceptable acronym; the alternative, uh, not so much...

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Fanning the Flames: Go For The Jugular, Or Play It Safe?

*Q: Will Gene Haas' sentencing have any effect at all on his (Haas CNC Racing) team?* _— Allen McCarty_*A:* Apparently not, Allen. The team has been operating with the knowledge that Haas could face serious slammer time since he pled guilty to tax fraud in August. Race team general manager Joe Custer will continue the day-to-day oversight of the race team while Hass is gone.Seems to me the bigger problem the company has is that it employed two new drivers in Jeremy Mayfield and Scott Riggs while losing two sponsors in Best Buy and Yellow Transportation. At least they are in the Top 35 in owner points, which will guarantee their participation in the first five races of 2008. So they have that going for them ... which is nice.

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Brian France; Is He Stupid or Does He Not Understand The Word Contract?

con•tract - kuh n-trakt - _verb_ to become drawn together or reduced in compass; become smaller; shrinkIn February, NASCAR CEO Brian France, on the subject of lower television ratings, said:"My view on television ratings, I mean, we look at them a little bit longer cycle or window than maybe you would think we would. TV ratings, depending on storylines, other competing things that are going around, are going to go down and up a little bit. We don't get too hung up on it. We went down a little bit. My expectation is we'll be up in TV ratings in '07 for the all the reasons I mentioned in my opening remarks, all the momentum we have that we didn't have last year."OK, Brian; let's see how your expectations panned out compared to 2006. (And remember, 2006 ratings were down overall from 2005.) Percentages were provided if available...

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