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Side By Side : Should A Winless Season Shut You Out Of The Chase?

*Today's Question : Heading to Richmond, we know that at least four of the twelve drivers in this year's Chase will have entered the playoffs not having won a race yet. Should a win be a requirement to be eligible to win the championship, or would it be unfair to cut off winless drivers who haven't yet earned their stripes in Victory Lane?* Bryan Davis Keith: The Chase has had many shortcomings since its inception, but its lack of focus on the Winners' Circle continues to be its biggest problem of public perception. Can you imagine the fallout from fans if we had a winless champion? There's no question that moving forward, the sport needs to change the rules to ensure this type of embarrassment never comes their way. It’s still possible for this format to make winning more important… and that's to require drivers to win simply to qualify for the Chase. Vito Pugliese: A cursory examination of the Sprint Cup standings reveals that of the 12 drivers who are currently eligible for the Chase for The Championship, five of them are winless so far in 2008. With that in mind, the obvious question has been raised -- should a win be a prerequisite for contending for the title each year? To steal a line from Juan Pablo Montoya, “Haaaellll nooo!” Long before this abomination known as “The Chase” was introduced to the fendered faithful, the Winst...er…Next…I mean, Sprint Cup was determined by a cumulative, yearlong battle royale that rewarded excellence in the form of consistency.

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Well, That About Wraps It Up For Ganassi – The Sequel

Being the egotistical sort of creature that I am, I often -- upon hearing certain news items come out of the NASCAR garage -- go back through my archives to assure myself that I do, in fact, know what I am talking about. Turns out that's the case once again this week, as another set of my opinions came true after hearing the blithering idiocy recently spouted by none other than Felix Sabates of Chip Ganassi Racing with... Felix Sabates. Why, it was just over two years ago that the "first" production of this article was written and, looking back, it amazes even a man of my hat size that I can be so darned right all the time!

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Fanning the Flames: Recent Hires Show NASCAR Owners Heading In A Familiar Direction

And with that, the Open Wheel Invasion has ended. If you're wondering about the “that” of which I speak, it's Chip Ganassi Racing’s announcement that Dario Franchitti will return to full-time IRL competition in 2009 -- leaving behind Sprint Cup aspirations that lasted all of half a season. Yes, I know a few drivers whose past is rooted in dirt will still make their way up the ranks in full-bodied stock cars on occasion, but the Big Boys -- those who were established IRL and Formula 1 stars, even champions — will most likely be staying in their respective series. How do I know? How could I make such a proclamation? The hirings of David Stremme, Casey Mears, and Reed Sorenson, that’s how.

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Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans: Chasing Down Your Best Bets For Richmond

Providing Hurricane Hanna doesn’t interfere with the proceedings in Richmond, the "regular season" comes to an end in the Cup Series this Saturday night. The Chase picture will be completely in focus after the checkered flag falls, but one thing fantasy owners should know is that it's already set for the majority of the field already. The challenge this weekend is for those gamers who have a borderline driver on their roster. Do they run a driver who is under intense pressure and may make a mistake, or do they run someone who is already out of contention, knowing they have nothing to be conservative about? Even for those drivers who are "locked in," the danger is that they are looking for bonus points and have nothing to lose -- so they may be involved in something because of over exuberance that ends up hurting their fantasy owners. Will this weekend cause a repeat of the Dale Earnhardt, Jr. vs. Kyle Busch confrontation from this Spring? Will the Joe Gibbs cars in general be strong at Richmond again? Can Carl Edwards knock another 10 points off of Kyle Busch’s bonus point lead for the Chase? Can Jimmie Johnson continue his strong push to the postseason? And which of these men will drive a bid into the fantasy racing playoffs of your own? Read on for this week’s Picks ‘N’ Pans to see which drivers should be on your roster and which ones should be at Home Depot shopping for generators and plywood.

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What’s Vexing Vito: Can Richmond Reiginte The Spark So Many Fans Have Lost?

This weekend marks the 26th race of the 2008 Sprint Cup season, and the final race before the fifth annual Championship Chase begins. With David Ragan and Kasey Kahne getting set to make a last ditch effort to get into title contention, Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin are among a few men walking on egg shells, a tightrope, and over the abyss at the .750-mile short track in Henrico County, Virginia Saturday night. Why, then, am I so completely underwhelmed with apathy matched only by a sustaining member of the Green Party?

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Mirror Driving: California Snoozin’ While Johnson’s Cruisin’

*Once again, Auto Club Speedway produced a less-than-stellar race for the sparsely-attended Pepsi 500. What makes the track race so different than it’s multi-groove twin, Michigan International Speedway and was this week’s race simply the product of the CoT and one team stinking up the proverbial show?* Vito : Well, it's a stones throw from the largest metropolitan area in North America, and still nobody shows up. Kurt : I don't actually think it was a bad race. I like when one guy dominates. Jimmie darn near threw a shutout last night. Vito : 70,000 people. That's it. More people go to Wrestlemania. Kurt : But I was noticing that it was difficult to pass again, which I think is going to be a problem with this car forever. Vito : MIS is in Detroit's backyard so there is interest, (albeit tepid) from fans and the auto industry alike. And it's difficult to pass in Fontana because of a stupid car with tires that are not designed with said stupid car in mind. Amy: Michigan races better, though. There are more passes. Kurt : I can't understand how Fontana got a Chase date. That is beyond my comprehension. That would be like giving Mexico City the second to last race of the season.

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Did You Notice? … Ragan’s Rise Equals Kenseth’s Fall? A Chase Race To Safety, And Stewart’s Success

*Did You Notice?* … How different things look now for David Ragan now than at this point a year ago? Let’s take a look at the stats through 25 races of his rookie season: 0 Wins, 1 Top 5 (Daytona 500 in February), 1 Top 10 (that same Daytona), 2 DNFs, 22nd in driver points, and getting walloped by Montoya in the Rookie Of The Year Race. How disappointing a performance was that for the freshman? Consider that Mark Martin – the longtime driver of Roush’s flagship No. 6 car – was sitting 24th in the standings, just 46 points behind the rookie while manning a No. 01 car part-time that had changed owners just one month earlier. To make matters worse, Martin accomplished his total with eight fewer starts under his belt, outshining Ragan in every way imaginable in making even the casual observer wonder why there wasn’t a bigger push to keep the veteran in the AAA Ford part-time. Nearly one year to the day after Tony Stewart called him a “dart without feathers,” Ragan looked like a dart going nowhere – even with the veteran guidance of Jimmy Fennig by his side.

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Richmond: A “Must-See” Event

Unless the 10-race shootout for the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup becomes a real barnburner of a battle leading into the final race of the season at Homestead, this weekend’s event will be as good as it will get for stock car racing fans. No other race on the schedule will match this race for drama and excitement like the hard-nosed, race-to-win competition that fans will witness Saturday night. All the ingredients are in place for one great show, starting with the correct venue. The ¾-mile Richmond International Raceway will provide, perhaps better than any other track on the Sprint Cup circuit, a site that will give teams struggling to maintain their Top 12 Chase eligible point positions and the two drivers needing to unseat them the best opportunity to achieve their goals the old fashioned way...by earning it.

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Top Ten Things Auto Club Speedway Could Do To Fill the Stands

In the spirit of diversity, and seeing as how some things never change, especially when dealing with a NASCAR race in Fontana, today’s Top Ten may look a bit different, but yet slightly familiar. Familiar in the sense that it is a slightly modified version of the one that was published last year about this time! Translation was provided by Babelfish.com, so don’t yell at me if it’s not quite right. El carretera del club auto de las cosas del Top Ten podía hacer para llenar los soportes *10.* Quite cerca de 30.000 asientos. *9.* Ofrezca la experiencia de conducción del O.J. Simpson, completa con un par libre de guantes de conducción. (No pueden caber, a propósito…) *8.* Plante la lechuga y otras formas de producto en el área de la pista de aterrizaje y grabe un uso para las máquinas segadores en cada asiento. (Usos impresos solamente en español.) *7.* Substituya todas las concesiones poseídas ISC y el restaurante del duende malicioso de Wolfgang por en el & Hacia fuera soportes de la hamburguesa.

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Frontstretch Sprint Cup Power Rankings : Top 15 After Fontana

Frontstretch Power Rankings
California is a wide open track with plenty of room to run. The drivers had to struggle with the sun as it was going down and ultimately struggled with making their cars handle as the track cooled off. The end result was Jimmie Johnson won the race and moved up two spots in the rankings this week as did Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer. But the biggest mover was Greg Biffle, climbing three spots from ninth to sixth. Tony Stewart was the biggest loser this week, dropping four spots while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. slid three. To see if your driver was chillin’ in the sun or burnt by the California heat, check out the results of our Top 15 rankings.

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