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Hornish Stops Horrible Luck For Rookies At Atlanta

*Rookies in the Starting Lineup:* Patrick Carpentier (21st), Dario Franchitti (23rd), Sam Hornish, Jr. (33rd), Regan Smith (41st) *Unofficial Finishing Positions:* Sam Hornish, Jr. (25th), Dario Franchitti (33rd), Patrick Carpentier (35th), Regan Smith (38th) *Rookie of the Race: Sam Hornish, Jr.* The bright yellow color scheme of Penske Trucking replaced the familiar blue and white Mobil One logo on the No. 77 Dodge in Atlanta. Yet, despite the vibrant appearance of the car, nobody seemed to notice Hornish on Sunday; which, considering his previous two outings, was nothing but a good thing. Hornish and head wrench Chris Carrier fought the same conditions every other driver / crew chief combination on pit road battled throughout the event: an extremely loose race car. "I mean, it was loose all the time and [I] had a really tough time getting it off the corner, going sideways most of the time," remarked a smiling but relieved Hornish after the checkers flew.

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Ten Points To Ponder … After Atlanta

*1. Where Have They Been?* - It appears that some race fans, missing from the television viewing audience the last few years, have decided to give NASCAR Sprint Cup racing another shot. Ratings are up for the four race broadcasts (Bud Shootout, Daytona Qualifying, Daytona 500, Las Vegas 400) televised this season that did not suffer a rescheduling due to weather (California). Overall, the Fox network has seen a 3% increase in its race ratings, with last week's Las Vegas broadcast increasing by a whopping 13% in comparison to last season's race. Looks like the building excitement to March Madness doesn't have anything on NASCAR this year ... at least, not yet. *2. An Oldie But Goodie…* Red Bull Racing Team GM Jay Frye announced late last week that 50-year-old former NASCAR Cup regular and past Craftsman Truck Series Champion *Mike Skinner* would be taking over the driving duties of the Red Bull No. 84 that had been driven by *A.J. Allmendinger.*

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On Groundbreaking Weekend, Teams On Top 35 Bubble Attempt Breaking Away From The Pack

The Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta may have made history at the front of the field -- with Toyota claiming the first victory for a foreign-born manufacturer since 1954 -- but it also featured a number of drivers trying to _prevent_ history of a different sort at the rear. With just one race remaining before 2008 Owner Points are used to "lock in" provisional spots, those on the dreaded bubble were trying hard to avoid any sort of Atlanta pitfall which would leave them on the wrong side of the cutline. With Bristol up ahead, the unpredictability of a half-mile short track makes it the highest-stress event on the circuit for a team that has to snag a good finish; so for most teams Sunday, the goal was to put the bubble out of reach of even the worst Bristol disaster. Unfortunately, not everyone could get that accomplished. Check out who's in the toughest shape -- as well as some longtime sufferers that appear on the verge of digging out of the trenches -- in this week's edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

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Nationwide Series Breakdown: Nicorette 300

*In a Nutshell:* Until Kyle Busch blew a right front tire with less than 30 laps to go, *Matt Kenseth* and the rest of the Nationwide Series field were racing for second place behind Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 20 Chevrolet. But Busch, who led over 150 laps, suffered his second tire failure in as many weeks -- setting the stage for a late race shootout among several other Cup drivers moonlighting in the series. In the end, Kenseth was able to hold off a hard-charging *Kevin Harvick* through a green/white/checker finish at Atlanta to score his 24th career Nationwide Series win. Harvick settled for a runner-up finish in his self-owned No. 33. Harvick was running down Kenseth in the final laps, but a late-race caution for debris derailed his charge to the lead. "I think we were better than the No. 17," Harvick said, "but he was better than we were for a couple of laps."

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Tracking the Trucks : American Commercial Lines 200

*In a Nutshell:* Kyle Busch took the checkered flag 1.116 seconds ahead of Ron Hornaday, Jr. Friday night in Atlanta to win the American Commercial Lines 200. Busch restarted in the lead with just four laps remaining after a short rain delay and ran away from the field, scoring his second consecutive win in the truck series. Mike Skinner, Matt Crafton and Chad McCumbee rounded out the Top 5. *Who Should Have Won:* Ron Hornaday, Jr. The defending truck series champion started from the pole Friday night and led 81 laps on the night. Hornaday, Jr. clearly had the fastest truck on the track, but rain hampered his run for the win. After pitting with just 16 laps remaining, the driver of the No. 33 Camping World Chevy found himself stuck in traffic that allowed Kyle Busch to take a nearly two-second lead. A four lap sprint to the finish turned out to be too much for Hornaday, Jr. whose truck was best on long runs.

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Information Now Available For Sprint Customers — On Their Cell Phone

*NASCAR Sprint Cup Series(TM) Now Fits in Your Pocket* _NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Information Available in Free Wireless Application_ *HUNTERSVILLE, NC* — Sprint (NYSE:S), title sponsor of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (TM), today announced the availability of NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile (SM) on many Sprint phones. The wireless application …

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No Cries of “Cheater” on this Playground?

Sometimes I wonder why some things get magnified until they seem larger than life while some things that should be a big deal seem to be buried in the background. No, I'm not talking about making mountains out of molehills and molehills out of mountains. I'm talking about calling a mountain a mountain and a molehill a molehill. There was barely a ripple in Race Fan World about the oil tank lid infraction on the No. 99 after Las Vegas. I suppose it's feasible that four bolts backed out and the lid migrated up to a highly unusual and visible place in the back of the racecar. It just seems highly unlikely, given that this, and four similar (lids loose, but not removed) in the Nationwide Series this year, are the first time in recent memory a car has been cited for a loose oil tank lid. Cars vibrate all the time and their bolts stay in place.

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Kenny Wallace Driver Diary: Making It In Under the Wire

As I was getting in my car for the Gatorade Duels, I said to myself, "Okay, Herman. You can do this. You've done it before." Except I knew there was more on the line than just making it into the 50th 500. This was a chance for me to prove myself for once and all, on the biggest stage in auto racing. This team was giving me an opportunity to show my ability. As the race went on, it wasn't looking very good. They dropped the green flag and the ignition went out. We had to pit and restart last. The whole race was like a dream. I was so focused inside the racecar on what I had to do-the drafting, all my moves. When I made the race, I think the first thing I did was I started laughing. It felt so good as we went past the checkered flag and I went all the way around the racetrack and I got into Turn 4 and all of a sudden I just started laughing. It wasn't a crazy laugh; I didn't laugh like I usually laugh. I was just laughing out of relief.

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Driven to the Past : John Potts

I grew up in Louisville, Ky., and my father and mother started taking me to what they called the "hardtop" races at the Jeffersonville (Ind.) Sportsdrome when I was ten years old - in 1949. I was hooked from the start. Those hardtops were mostly 1939 and 40 Fords and Mercurys, with an occasional 39 Hudson tossed. in, and the racing was fantastic. One night I was walking behind the grandstands with Dad as we headed for the concession stand, and a guy came up and grabbed me by the shoulder, and asked if I'd like to make a few bucks selling newspapers. He said I'd get a nickel a paper, and he'd give Dad the money for my ticket. There are times over the last 50 years or so when I've thought, "If I'd just told that guy 'No' I wouldn't be in this mess." However, over the long run I've had no reason to regret it. The people I've met in racing have become the best friends I have, and just about everything good that's happened to me has happened because I was involved in racing.

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Do Hard Hits Make Drivers Consider Retirement?

Shortly after Rusty Wallace announced his impending departure from the NASCAR traveling circus at the beginning of the 2005 season, he had to correct a motorsports media that suggested he was scared to get into a racecar. Wallace clarified that it was not that he was scared to get behind the wheel—racecar drivers can't be—but that he did recognize the always lurking peril involved in auto racing. Wallace's decision to hang it up was partly a result of Dale Earnhardt's untimely death. Dale had established himself as one of the all time greats, accumulated considerable wealth, started his own race team, and was witnessing his son beginning the journey to taking over his mantle when he passed away all too soon. In an interview with Darrell Waltrip that year, Rusty regretted that Dale never had a chance to reflect on it all in his rocking chair. One might have wondered whether similar thoughts of hanging up the gloves were on the minds of Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart after their calamitous Vegas experiences.

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