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Best of Holding a Pretty Wheel : Sunscreen, Bowling for Junior, and The Porta-Potty Story

_Amy Henderson is taking a break this week to relocate to Race City USA. She will return with her usual wit and insight in next week's edition of Holding a Pretty Wheel. In the meantime, enjoy this classic that originally ran in March 2007._ I'm not going to talk about NASCAR this week. Well, I am, but not in the way you might think. What I mean to say is, I'm not going to talk about the rules, the politics, the Car Of Tomorrow That Is Now Today (COTTINT?) or why Dale Junior is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I've heard enough of all that. For the record, the new rules are, ahem, interesting, I am not going to write in Brian France for President in 2008, I have no problem thus far with the CoT, and I like Junior. However, with the backlog of stories appearing all over the place about these very same issues...I'm just not going to write about it.

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Beyond The Cockpit : Paul Menard

_When Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated expanded to four teams this season, it wasn't the first time this year they were dealing with a new addition to their stable. Back in February, 26-year-old Paul Menard and the No. 15 Chevrolet were added to the fold. Back then, there was no merger involved...just a natural progression to the big leagues after lots of hard work to get there. Menard certainly paid his dues over a three-year stretch in the Busch Series to earn the right to campaign for Rookie Of The Year in Nextel Cup. With a win at Milwaukee last season, Menard finished sixth in the standings - the highest of any full-time Busch Series driver - no small feat in a world where Buschwackers reign supreme._ _Carrying sponsorship from his father's company, Menards home improvement stores, the No. 15 team appeared well-equipped to be the main challenger to Juan Pablo Montoya for rookie honors this season. Instead, it's been a struggle for Menard and company - six DNQs in the first 21 races have left him a distant third in the standings behind both Montoya and David Ragan. But with the acquisition of Ginn Racing two weeks ago - and the automatic qualifying exemption that came with it - DEI has appeared to breathe new life into the No. 15 program. With a new crew chief in Dave Charpentier and a greater focus on race-ready setup, the team appears primed and ready to make a significant late-season improvement._ _Tony Lumbis sat down with Menard on Friday at Pocono Raceway to discuss the young driver's season-to-date, how the merger has affected his perception of DEI's future, and how Teresa Earnhardt is a far different person than people might think._ Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch: *The Ginn/D.E.I. merger marks the coming together of two enormous organizations. How has that been going so far?* Paul Menard: It's been really good. I got to go to the new shop (last) Monday and look it over, and the place is huge. There's definitely enough floor space for four teams to all be on the same floor. All of it is (out) in the open, so everybody knows what everybody's got. Obviously, we've got the points and that's huge (referring to his team taking over the No. 14 team's owner points). Now, we can just focus on going racing, and with Mark Martin helping us out, there's definitely nobody in the garage area with more knowledge and more experience than Mark to help a young guy like myself out.

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Fanning the Flames: Robby Gordon’s Problem, Joe Gibbs’ Reality, And Why Kurt Busch Is Craving…Miller Lite?

_"Big picture, we didn't gain many points on Dale Jr. today or any of the guys because they ran well. But the other big picture is all the Americans that enjoy Miller Lite with us today… I encourage them to go out to the convenience stores, grocery stores, or their pubs, grab a fresh Miller Lite and celebrate with us all week - ‘cause we're here and we're gonna try to get in the Chase."_ Yes, that was our boy Kurt Busch from Victory Lane this past weekend, doing his best Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn impression after dominating the Pennsylvania 500. Congenial, media-friendly, and an all-around great guy, Busch ripped off one helluva commercial that would have made any marketing guru proud (and any true pitchman cringe).

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Hats Off to NASCAR For Finally Capturing the “Casual Fan”

Ever since Brian France took over the reins of NASCAR, he has unabashedly stated that two of his primary goals for the future of the sport were as follows: be as popular as the NFL, and capture that elusive creature known as the "casual fan." Those are undoubtedly mighty ambitious goals for a man who is so despised by the very fans of the sport over which he presides. Things have gotten so bad as of late that even the President of the United States, when he wants to feel good about himself, compares his "approval ratings" to those of France.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Driver Handicaps : Watkins Glen Edition

*2007 Watkins Glen Handicaps* *Jeff Gordon* - Gordon is one of the better NASCAR road racers. While he has four wins at the Glen, oddly enough he hasn't had a Top 10 finish here in five races - he's finished outside the Top 20 in three of those events. But don't be fooled; Gordon also has five wins at Sonoma, and could easily break out of his road race slump here. *Denny Hamlin* - Hamlin finished 10th at Watkins Glen last year and 10th at Sonoma earlier this year. He won last year's Busch Series race in Mexico on a road course. *Matt Kenseth* - Kenseth has three Top 10 finishes in seven starts at the Glen with a best result of eighth. He runs much better here than at Sonoma.

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Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans : Watkins Glen Edition

While Kurt Busch put on a clinic last weekend at Pocono, the rest of the Chase hopefuls put in good finishes to accentuate the point of why they are the best of the best. With all 14 main Chase contenders finishing in the Top 17, it wasn't hard to put up a good fantasy number last weekend. But this week's Centurion Boats at the Glen will likely be a different story. Road course racing isn't for everyone, with a few key drivers normally stealing the show. However, crazy things can happen when you're going left and right on the Nextel Cup circuit, and sometimes an unexpected hero can emerge. So, which drivers have we selected to make you look like a Fantasy King or Queen this week? Read this week's Fantasy Picks 'N' Pans to find out. *Cami's Race Rewind:* *Kevin Harvick* scored his first road course victory and second win of 2006 in last year's AMD at the Glen. Harvick led 28 laps during the race, including the final three after passing old friend, and sometimes foe, *Tony Stewart*.

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Mirror Driving : Did Kyle Busch Make The Right Choice, Does Robby Gordon Still Have A Voice, And Did Ray Evernham Buy Himself A Rolls Royce?

*Kurt Busch was - in a word - dominant on Sunday. What's made the difference over at Penske Racing in the past two months that has him primed to make the Chase? Can he keep up the momentum?* Amy: Two Words: Pat. Tryson. Vito: Pat Tryson has been the answer - plain and simple. Beth: Pat Tryson.

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Pat Tryson: The Right Man, Right Time For Kurt Busch

"Pat, buddy, where have you been all my life?!" No, that wasn't Kurt Busch speaking to new crew chief Pat Tryson following their Sunday victory at Pocono...although it easily could have been. Instead, it was Busch's former Roush Racing teammate Mark Martin, words spoken following Martin and Tryson's first race together at Phoenix in 2003. The joy expressed from that fateful day proved a telling insight into what would be a successful future between the two men...a future that Tryson appears ready to relive through the potential of a younger, rising talent.

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Robby Gordon One-Ups Himself

"It amazes me. Every time I think Robby can't do anything any more stupid than he's already done, he one-ups himself." _Casey Mears, March 2007_ It is time to revisit the subject of Robby Gordon: Race Car Driver after his controversial activities in Montreal, Canada last Saturday. In March of this year, I dedicated this weekly column to defending Gordon against what I believe to be unfair and unbalanced treatment by the motorsports community as a whole. What had prompted that "article":https://frontstretch.com/tthompson/7408/ entitled, Robby Gordon: NASCAR's "Lone Wolf" were allegations of Gordon's aggressive driving that led to an early race accident in Las Vegas, one which ended with the race cars of Ward Burton and Casey Mears being severely damaged. Though I continue to maintain that Gordon's survival as an owner/driver in Nextel Cup far outshadows in significance any perceived "bad behavior" on his part, I believe Casey Mears' comment on the accident at that time, in consideration of these most recent events, carries considerably more credence. Considering all of the altercations with teammates and other drivers that Gordon has been involved in over his career - or even the numerous one-car spins or multi-car wrecks he's caused - it seems to me that Robby Gordon has definitely upped his "stupid bar" another notch or two this time.

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Top Ten Things More Exciting Than Sunday’s Pennsylvania 500

10. *Grandma's Quilting Bee* At least you get all the latest juicy gossip. 9. *Watching the commercials* For, like, the millionth time, just because it says Bud ON the car, doesn't mean there is Bud IN the car…Crazy…mutant…desert…consumers. 8. *Watching NOL's Garage Cam for 10 hours straight* At least you see your favorite driver, even if his name isn't Junior or Kurt.

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