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2008 Season Preview : How Can NASCAR Stop The Bleeding?

Beth Lunkenheimer, Frontstretch Truck Series Expert: "(Fridays / Tearing Apart The Trucks)":https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/3362/ It's hard to pinpoint just one thing when it comes to fixing the things NASCAR has messed up. They've completely abandoned quite a few of the traditions that made the sport what it is today. From moving the Labor Day race from Darlington to the Chase system to the Car of Tomorrow and more, the fans that have defected have quite a few reasons to stay away. The biggest thing that comes to mind, though ,is the Car of Tomorrow. The drivers have said how hard the car is to handle and how easily it changes from loose to tight in an instant. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was one of the first drivers to cry out against the CoT when NASCAR first implemented it. "I'll be just trying to keep it off the fence. I think it'll be hard not to hit the wall," Earnhardt, Jr. said. "The way these things get tight, it'll be hard and slow, real slow. Very, very frustrating. Really, really, really frustrating."

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud : Everybody Is A Star

I'm actually writing this column not on Sunday but on Saturday night, Groundhog Day 2008. I am told by reliable sources who must remain anonymous because they are not authorized to discuss the situation that some sort of football game is to be played tomorrow evening to decide the NFL championship. The Super Bowl is only of interest to me because its arrival marks the passing of the torch from football to stock car racing. Of course, the torch is not passed as gracefully in the Fall, where the start of regular season NFL games coincides with the start of our sham of a playoff system -- the Chase. Arriving at Daytona this week, all drivers are on equal footing. It doesn't matter if you are Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon, John Andretti or Robby Gordon; right now, every driver and every team are equal in the points standings, each one with zero points on the board to start.

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If France Wants “Back To Basics,” Then Getting There Starts With Daytona Dreams

It's been nearly two weeks since Brian France spoke the words that made everyone covering NASCAR do a double take. "We're going to minimize change the best we can," he said of the upcoming season ahead. ""Change is good to a certain point - but we've done all the changing we think the sport can stand, and now we want to build on that. And that means getting back to basics." With that, on the eve of the 50th Daytona 500 the NASCAR brass finds itself in the midst of pondering a change in direction, working on a future that's based on history they only recently chose to rewrite. The path to reconnect the two won't be easy - now without the guiding hand of Bill France, Jr. to lean on for advice and support, the powers that be will have a far more difficult time figuring out just what those "basics" really are. After all, Brian France has made so many adjustments to the format of how the series works, it's hard to even tell the NASCAR of 2002 from the one we have just six years later. Sometimes, even the most hardcore of longtime fans forget what that was like, how the sport worked then compared to how it functions now. That's why it's important to take a breath, think back, and remember what exactly "getting back to basics" means on the eve of a season critical to halting NASCAR's decline. For in the beginning, it all starts with a dream.

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Nextel Cup Rookie Report : 2008 Preview, Part I

Speedweeks at Daytona starts up this week, which can only mean one thing - a new NASCAR season is finally upon us after some much-needed time off. The 2008 season will once again feature a talented group of rookies who look to hit the pavement for their first full (or almost full) season of competition; and as was the case in 2007, I'll once again be providing you with an in depth analysis of each driver as they go through the motions of their respective freshman years through the weekly version of Frontstretch's Rookie Report. Together, we'll chronicle the ups and down of each driver's success -- or failure -- as they adjust to life in the Cup Series. With the season just a handful of days away, now's a good time to take a look at who will be competing with a yellow stripe on his rear bumper in 2008, and what we could expect from each one.

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Bubble Breakdown : Previewing The 2008 Battle For The Top 35, Part I

The 50th Daytona 500. It's an upcoming milestone for everyone -- teams and fans alike -- but I'm going to go out on a limb and say some are so busy preparing for the first five races of the year that this 50th anniversary thing is a little detail that may be lost to them. Instead, many are focused on making the magical 35th position in points: owner points, that is.

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Racing At The Beach : Legends Set The Stage, 1971 – 1975

The Grand National Circuit, in the process of becoming Winston Cup, was very different than it had been when the drivers and teams had been there in 1970. The Factory Wars were over: Ford had announced it would not run any factory teams in 1971, and Chrysler was supporting only two cars, Richard Petty in a Plymouth and Buddy Baker in a Petty Enterprises Dodge. Among those left out in the cold as a result was Bobby Isaac, who had claimed the 1970 championship for Dodge. NASCAR had some new rules as well; The winged Mopars were all but banned, with a rule stating they had to run a 305 cubic inch engine as opposed to the 426 and 429 big blocks of the time in other cars. Restrictor plates had also been added between the carbs and manifolds of all cars to slow them down, as the speeds were once again beyond the capabilities of tires of the time.

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Racing At The Beach : Boycotts And Brushes With Greatness, 1965-1970

The Hemi Chryslers had dominated the 1964 Daytona Speedweeks, but it was a very different picture when the 1965 event rolled around. The big Hemis had been outlawed, and Chrysler was boycotting NASCAR racing. Besides the Dodge and Plymouth cars being out of action, so were their factory drivers, sitting on the sidelines at Chrysler's insistence. As a result, attendance at the 500,which had approached 70,000 in 1964, was off to less than 59,000 and even at that some people think Bill France was overstating the number to make it look like less of a disaster. Darel Dieringer held off a determined charge by Ned Jarrett in the final corner of the first qualifier to take the win in a Mercury. The second qualifier was another one of those carnage strewn events Daytona sometimes produced. With the Chrysler teams sitting out, a lot of rookie drivers saw an opportunity to make the big show. Some of them had never competed on any track bigger than a half mile before in their lives. One of them, Rod Eulenfeld, spun out on the very first lap and came back onto the track triggering a 13 car pile up that involved a lot of the other rookies as well. Buck Baker was also injured in the pile up. Throughout the tracks history the Daytona 500 has been marred by terrible and occasionally tragic wrecks involving rookies running on the massive speedway in traffic for the first time. Conventional wisdom is a rookie who gets through his qualifier incident free will be all right in the 500. Many times they do not. Fred Lorenzen appeared to have the second qualifier sewn up when he made a rare mental error. He passed Junior Johnson on the 39th lap of the event, and as he crossed the line thought the race was over and lifted off the throttle a lap early. Junior stormed back past him and won the race the next lap over a highly flustered Lorenzen.

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Racing At The Beach : The 500 Tradition Gains Momentum, 1960-64

The inaugural Daytona 500 of 1959 had been a huge success with blistering speeds and nary a caution to mar the proceedings, so as the Grand National circuit prepared for their second visit to Bill France's high-banked monument to speed in 1960, everyone was hoping for more of the same. Instead, the second version of the Great American Race brought with it a bit of a reality check. Fireball Roberts, who had run so strong in 1959, took the first qualifying race in a Pontiac edging out Cotton Owens by less than a second. It was in the course of that race that Tommy Irwin spun his fleet Ford T-Bird and wound up driving into Lake Lloyd in the center of the track. Luckily, Irwin was able to swim to safety. Jack Smith, in another Pontiac, took the second qualifier, edging out Bobby Johns by two seconds. The track had lived up to its promise of high speeds and close racing.

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2008 Season Preview : Who Is This Year’s Chase Surprise?

Today's Season Preview Topic: Which driver is going to be the biggest surprise in the Chase this season? Kim DeHaven, Senior Editor: "(Tuesdays / Numbers Game)":https://frontstretch.com/staffinfo/357/ *Greg Biffle*. After a mid-to-late season surge last year, I look for Biffle to carry that momentum over into Top 5 and Top 10 finishes in 2008. Even after he announces his 2009 plans and is officially a "lame duck" driver at Roush Fenway Racing, I look for him to rack up a few wins to solidly secure a place in the Chase.

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Racing At The Beach : The Debut Of The Great American Race

To those drivers slated to run in the very first Daytona 500, their first glimpse of the brand new speedway must have been awe inspiring. When Bill France Sr. first proposed a two-and-a-half mile race course with high banked corners, more than a few people scoffed that it would never be built, and some even said it couldn't be built. There had been such long delays in getting the speedway approved and built that a newspaper, the Indianapolis Star, once labeled France's proposed race track the "Pipe Dream Speedway". But there it sat, two-and-a-half miles of fresh black top shimmering in the midwinter Florida sun, with banked corners higher than the tallest buildings in the towns some of the drivers racing on it had grown up in. For a group used to running on short dirt and asphalt ovals, the awe must have been tempered with a bit of fear as well. As Jimmy Thompson, a driver of that era, put it, "There have been other tracks that separated the men from the boys. This is the track that's going to separate the brave from the weak when the boys are gone." Bill France had first proposed the Daytona Speedway during the annual beach/road course race in 1954, and was confident enough in his ability to get the track built he told the drivers there they would be racing on the speedway the very next year.

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