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Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans: Auto Club 500

The wild, frantic pace of Speedweeks and the Daytona 500 is now behind us, and for fantasy team owners, it's time to get into the weekly grind of the 2008 Sprint Cup season. Unless you have a crystal ball on steroids, there is a pretty good chance your fantasy team took a hit last weekend when the Hendrick camp failed to live up to expectations and the Dodges came out of nowhere to dominate the Top 10. Before you get too down on yourself, remember it's just the first week and there is plenty of time left to make up lost ground, starting with this Sunday's Auto Club 500 at California Speedway. So which drivers can help you get back on the path to prominence and which ones are likely to be a pot hole on the street of dreams? Read this week's Fantasy Picks N Pans to find out.

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Did You Notice? The Busch Brothers Playing Nice? Newman Making College History? And More…

*Did You Notice* … That on the final lap of the Daytona 500, you had both Kyle and Kurt Busch _giving up_ on their own chance to win the Great American Race, instead choosing to stay in line behind their teammates while attempting to push them to the win. That selfless act was followed by an emotional, humble Kurt Busch in Victory Circle, where he celebrated with winner Ryan Newman while bursting with gratitude for the opportunities he's gotten over at Penske Racing. Compassionate? Soft-spoken? Wait a minute … who are these guys, and what have they done with the real Busch brothers? I was ready to report on a full-fledged kidnapping before leaving the track; but then Kyle Busch started spouting off about cars laying back on the restart, and I think we all breathed a sigh of relief.

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Mirror Driving : Dodging The Charger, Who Pulls The Next Upset, And Questioning The Start Times At Daytona

*After a whole week in relative anonymity amongst their manufaturer counterparts, Dodge took six of the Top 10 spots in the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Were the Dodges merely in the right place at the right time, or are they going to be a force to reckoned with this year?* Jeff: They were never as far behind as they let on. Amy: They certainly weren't really on my radar much -- though Sorenson's Speedweeks should have been a clue. Mike: As Roger Penske stated after the race, they focused on downforce and it paid off in the end. Matt T.: Six of the Top 8 tells me they had something figured out. But Daytona is an anomaly, so let's see how Cali and Vegas go before jumping on the bandwagon.

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Frontstretch Sprint Cup Power Rankings : Top 15 After Daytona

*How The Rankings Are Calculated*: Frontstretch does their power rankings somewhat similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football -- writers on our staff will vote for the Top 20 on a 20-19-18-17-16-15...3-2-1 basis, giving 20 points to their first place driver, 19 for their second, and so on. In the end, Mike Neff calculates the points, adds some funny one liners, and ... voila! You have the power rankings from our dedicated staff. So, without further ado ... here's our latest Power Rankings following Daytona...

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Top Ten Excuses Heard At Hendrick Motorsports Weekly Post Race Meeting

*10. (Someone from the No. 48 team)*: "…but all we gotta do is be in at least 12th by race 26 -- right?" *9. Chad Knaus*: "I do my best work when I'm not allowed at the track." *8. (Someone from the No. 24 team)*: "Well, we hired this new kid, see -- Shane Hmiel, I think his name was -- to work on the suspension…" *7. Jimmie Johnson*: "I'm the reigning back-to-back Champion. You'll have to ask my agent."

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Newman Flies Under the Radar En Route To Returning As Cup Contender

By most accounts, the 50th running of the Daytona 500 lived up to its hype. The annual Florida speed extravaganza provided spectators with an above-average dose of exciting side-by-side racing, and it culminated in an almost-Cinderella like ending with a completely unexpected win by Ryan Newman. To say Newman's win was an upset -- despite being aligned with powerful Penske Racing -- would be an understatement. Plenty of big names were being bandied around as real threats to win the event, with fan favorite Dale Earnhardt, Jr. becoming the odds-on favorite based not on his popularity, but on his wins in both the Bud Shootout and the first Gatorade Duel qualifying race. Should Junior falter, many speculated that his teammates, Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson, would also have a shot of pulling out the win. Based on preseason hype and prerace success, it seemed just a matter of time until the heretofore dominating Hendrick Motorsports stable of drivers would be lined up on the last lap as they raced to the checkered flag at Daytona.

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Frontstretch 4Play Driver Tracker

Segment 4 Frontstretch 4play.   If a driver is in bold, that is the last time you can use them this segment If there is an X in a field, that means you used a maxed out driver.   CHEVY DODGE FORD TOYOTA #48 Phucking Rocks         Week 28 …

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Put A Dodge In Your Garage : Dodge Returns To Prominence At Daytona

All through testing and Speedweeks at Daytona, it seemed there was one thing fans could count on happening in the 50th running of the Daytona 500: The Toyotas and the Hendrick Chevrolets would be near the front in the Great American Race. Hendrick's latest acquisition, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., got off to a fast start during Speedweeks, winning the Bud Shootout and his 150-mile qualifying race. Another Hendrick Chevrolet, the No. 48 Lowe's Impala, driven by Jimmie Johnson, took the Coors Light Pole. The reigning champion shared the front row with the face--and mouth piece--of Toyota, Michael Waltrip. Denny Hamlin bested teammate and fellow Toyota driver Tony Stewart to win his 150-mile qualifying race. With such a precedence, why would we expect anything else? During the Daytona 500, it was the Toyota show, with a sprinkling of Hendrick, as expected. Kyle Busch looked primed to take home the checkers, but only if Tony Stewart didn't get there first. So how did it all turn out? As their ads from the 1960's stated, "Put a Dodge in Your Garage".

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The Yellow Stripe: The Perfect Day

The idea to go to the 50th running of the Daytona 500 was born in Italy last summer. During a lazy afternoon by the pool, a couple of days before I was married, I was explaining to my best man how much I loved NASCAR when he admitted that he had been watching some highlights of the races on late night British TV. So, we made a snap decision to go to the big race; all that was left was the question of logistics. The how part was simple; it would have to be a road trip. Roping in a great friend of mine from New York, I planned out a five-day, 2,500-mile round trip for the three of us, with the signature event being the 500 and a pre-race pit tour from a buddy of mine in the business who would act as our chaperone for the day. My two traveling companions are both confirmed petrol-heads -- one is a real Formula One enthusiast, but you could have written his knowledge of NASCAR on the back of a postage stamp with a paintbrush.

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Who’s Hot / Who’s Not In Sprint Cup: Daytona 500 Edition

For three months the anticipation built up in preparation for the 50th running of the Daytona 500, all the way up until the green flag flew over 43 of the world's best drivers to kick off the 2008 season Sunday afternoon. The expected Hendrick Motorsports dominance was overshadowed by the success of Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota with *Tony Stewart*, *Kyle Busch* and *Denny Hamlin* each taking turns at the front of the field while only one Hendrick car finished in the Top 25. As the closing laps came winding down, it was two drivers who hadn't necessarily been contenders for the majority of the race who teamed up for a 1-2 finish. The Penske cars of *Kurt Busch* and *Ryan Newman* are obviously two of the hottest cars coming out of Daytona, but who else is satisfied with their performance in the Great American Race? Who is already behind the 8-ball after just one race? Come in and find out in this week's edition of Who's/ Who's Not in Sprint Cup.

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