Recent Posts

Bowles-Eye : There’s No Crying In NASCAR…Except For Jamie McMurray

The screaming on the radio was so deafening, Jamie McMurray couldn't clear his head. The third-closest finish in NASCAR history had just taken place, and the 31-year-old from Missouri had seen too many close calls go against him to count his chickens before they hatched.It took the better part of thirty seconds to mouth the words he'd dare not believe to be true - until he heard the answer from someone else."As I went into turn one I gave it a second for it to be clear, and I'm like, ‘Who won?'" McMurray explained. "And they were like, ‘You did.'""I just started beating my fist against the wheel and the leg braces, almost into pain, I was just so excited."

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Ten Points to Ponder … After Daytona (Pepsi 400)

*1. Cup Confusion* - So, it's official. The NASCAR Nextel Cup Series becomes the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starting in 2008 - the third different series sponsor in five years, which makes things pretty confusing! Case in point - when Tony Stewart won the title in 2002, we said he won the Winston Cup. In 2005, we called it the Nextel Cup. If Stewart wins the title next year, it will be the Sprint Cup. Would it make too much sense to simply give the trophy a permanent name, like the NASCAR Cup, instead of renaming it every time the sponsor changes? Or maybe in honor of Bill France, Jr., it could be named the France Cup by _____ (insert sponsor here).*2. Sprint to a new wireless provider* - The same week that Sprint announced its new NASCAR sponsorship - amid great fanfare and flourish - I read an article entitled, "Sprint Dumps Problem Customers." The "problem?" Apparently, some Sprint customers have been calling Sprint Customer Service too often.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud : Pepsi 400 Edition

_Editor's Note : Due to a death in the family, Matt McLaughlin continues his hiatus from Thinkin' Out Loud. Managing Editor and SI.com contributor Tom Bowles filled in again this week; in the meantime, please keep the McLaughlins in your thoughts and prayers._*The Key Moment*: Carl Edwards looked three-wide but thought better of it on the last lap, leaving teammate Jamie McMurray free to catch the perfect side draft and hold on to beat Kyle Busch to the line in what turned into the third-closest NASCAR finish in the past fifteen years.*In A Nutshell*: In the last restrictor plate race with the old car, there was a push for us to remember the good times. As the Big One stayed away, racing took precedence over wrecking in what became the second edge-of-your-seat finish at Daytona this season.*What They'll Be Talking About Around The Water Cooler This Week:**Looks like crew chiefs punished for pushing the envelope have continued to take things a bit too far.* On the heels of pictures surfacing showing Tony Eury, Jr. perched on a trailer in the infield during his suspension, NASCAR changed its rules this week to force penalized crew chiefs not just out of the garage - they're no longer allowed on the track premises. While such a move needed to be made in order to save public face, don't be fooled into thinking it makes a real difference. With Trackpass, RaceView, and all the other technology available to teams nowadays, is it really going to matter whether Eury's working from his laptop in the infield - or from the nearest hotel? Text messaging can occur from anywhere, anytime - and expect the Hendrick boys to continue to take advantage of it while their head men spend the next four weeks on the sidelines.

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Rating the Nextel Cup Rookies : Pepsi 400 Edition

*Rookies in the Starting Lineup*: Juan Pablo Montoya (20th), David Ragan (24th), Paul Menard (41st), David Reutimann (42nd)*Unofficial Finishing Positions*: David Ragan (12th), Paul Menard (21st), David Reutimann (26th), Juan Pablo Montoya (32nd)*Rookie of the Race*: *David Ragan.* Ragan appeared to be content simply to ride midpack and stay out of trouble for much of Saturday night's race. After starting 24th, Ragan quietly guided his Ford Fusion into the Top 20, keeping his fenders clean while much of the field struggled around him with ill-handling race cars. With 20 laps remaining, the No. 6 car was sitting in 19th position, far from the guts and glory of the front pack at Daytona. However, Ragan would take advantage of two more cautions that bunched the field and put him back in contact with the leaders, piloting his AAA machine to a 12th place finish by the checkered flag. This marks the eighth time this year that Ragan would come home as the highest finishing rookie, giving him a sweep in that category at the Daytona's trioval while serving as a nice complement to his fifth place finish there back in February.

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Busch Breakdown: Winn-Dixie 250 Presented By PepsiCo

*In a Nutshell:* Restrictor plate racing in the Busch Series is usually about as old school as it gets nowadays. The aero package that the vehicles run, with the wicker bill on top of the roof, results in intense racing where passing for the lead occurs for almost the entire event.But with every rule, there's always an exception.*Kyle Busch* made a mockery of the Winn Dixie 250, leading most of the way after the competition caution on lap 20 (65 out of 102 laps total) to score his first Busch Series win of the season. The No. 5 Chevrolet beat the No. 21 driven by *Kevin Harvick* to the line; Harvick tried a valiant last lap challenge on the outside line, but came up a few car lengths short in what was the first Green-White-Checkered finish of the season. Still, it was a valiant effort for a team that led early until both alternator and handling problems left him back in the pack and ultimately too far behind to score the win. *Dave Blaney*, *Tony Stewart*, and *Clint Bowyer* rounded out the Top 5 finishers.

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The Daytona 500: The Next Victim Of NASCAR’s Greed?

Quick, name the track that hosts the IRL's season opening race.Did it take a second? Still don't know? Heck...I had to look it up myself, as I'm not the die-hard IndyCar enthusiast.The answer to this question is not as important on a factual level so much as it is on a subconscious one. In NASCAR, where the Daytona 500 has served as the starting block to a new season for 25 years, everyone — even my mother who only catches a glimpse of races on random trips through the living room — knows that Daytona kicks off the traveling road show known as the NASCAR season. In an otherwise barren gap on the sports landscape — the Super Bowl has just concluded and March Madness is still a few weeks away — Daytona has carved its own neat little niche in February where the sport of auto racing can take center stage on a national level.

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Tearing Apart the Trucks : A Series in Trouble?

After eight weeks straight, the Craftsman Truck Series drivers get a break in their 25-race schedule. Since off weeks tend to be slow on news, I got to thinking about the series and the shape it's in. Week in and week out, television coverage shows massive amounts of empty seating at every track, but is the lowest tier of NASCAR's "big three" in trouble?

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Best of: Holding a Pretty Wheel – Hate the 48? It’s Totally Undeserved

In the weeks since this year's Nextel Cup championship was decided in favor of Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team, I've heard a lot of people complain about him. The reasons why are as diverse as the crowd of Manhattanites currently welcoming the world's fastest growing sport on wheels for the yearly awards banquet. Some people say Johnson cheats (Get over it; the team served the penalty NASCAR assessed - if you don't like it, complain about the rules). Others say he's too politically correct. He's too much like Jeff Gordon. He wins too much (bet Johnson doesn't care if you don't like that, either - if you compete at anything, you know there is no such thing as "winning too much." He's had everything handed to him. He's too perfect, too unemotional.

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Driven To The Past: Greg Sacks

The Daytona 500 is widely recognized as the Superbowl of Stockcar racing. The July event has a slightly less prestigious moniker attached to it; longtime fans know it simply as The Firecracker 400. Before the days of the Pepsi sponsorship and lights circling the track; the race started by noon, as the stifling Florida heat and humidity in July made it as uncomfortable for the fans as it did the drivers. The old adage used to be "On the track by eleven, on the beach by three." In 1985, the most unlikely of drivers would visit Victory Lane at the World Center of Racing. This week we profile one of the most unlikely of heroes, as surprised at his own success, as were his competitors, Greg Sacks.

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