Recent Posts

Give Credit to Sprint / Nextel In AT&T Sponsorship Resolution

_I hold in my heart the belief that reasonable people will come to a reasonable solution, and hopefully we can get there sooner than later._ - Jeff Burton With a compromise agreement being reached last week that effectively puts to rest the ongoing legal battle between NASCAR, AT&T, and Cup Series sponsor Sprint / Nextel, it appears that reasonableness has indeed won out. The topic, though generally considered a "sideshow" to the competition that attracts millions of fans to the sport, was nonetheless of significant importance to all parties concerned. It's an issue that certainly needed to come to a quick resolution; but make no mistake about it, chalk this one up as a win for AT&T, NASCAR and Richard Childress Racing. The agreement to put the wireless provider back on the car is perfect timing; it allows RCR to adorn the No. 31 with the contested AT&T logos just as the Chase for the Championship begins.

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Mirror Driving : Could Dale Jr. Still Make The Chase, Will Open Wheelers Ever Dominate A Cup Race, And Did AT & T Get Put In Its Place?

*In the midst of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. overkill, the 12-car Chase field was set in stone on Saturday night. Looking at the final list of contenders, are there any surprises you see on that list? Anyone you think doesn't deserve to be running for the title, and if so, who would you replace him with?* Amy: Wait...you mean there were other drivers in that race? Really? Vito: Yeah. And 5th-12th do _not_ deserve to be there. In the new system, everybody pretty much is a wildcard. Amy: I agree with Vito. Tom: Eh, I think that everyone earned their right to be in this thing based on the system NASCAR has. That having been said, for all intents and purposes Jeff Gordon would have won the title this season. No question.

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Handicapping The Chase : Part I

This Sunday, just twelve men will take the green flag at New Hampshire with their dream of a 2007 Cup title intact. It's been a remarkable season for them to get this far, as both consistency and talent have put them in position to achieve the ultimate goal. But of course, from the twelve only one can emerge to watch their dream turn into reality. Who will that person be? We'll try and figure that out over the next two days, handicapping the Chase field to dissect what drivers stand a chance at the trophy…and which ones are better off walking away. So, without further ado…let's look at how these men will finish, tackling the predicted final standings from the bottom up...

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Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in the Chase: Richmond Edition

Now that Dale Earnhardt Jr. watch is over, the focus over the last ten races of the year will be on the twelve drivers making a run for the Nextel Cup Championship. With his second straight victory, Jimmie Johnson put the competition on notice that they will have to take on the No. 48 team to take the trophy that they earned last season. But with six of the Chase drivers finishing in the Top 10 at Richmond, they are proving to be up to the challenge. So who left Richmond riding high and ready for battle and which drivers walked away wishing they had a little more time to prepare? Read this week's Who's Hot and Who's Not in the Chase for the Championship. *Hot* *Jimmie Johnson:* After a summertime slump that saw him go 15 races without a win, Johnson has flipped the switch and heads into the Chase as the top seeded driver with six wins; including back to back victories at Fontana and Richmond. The change came after he posted two straight DNF's at Chicago and Indy when he dropped to ninth in the standings. He went on a roll with three straight Top 5s before a mediocre finish at Bristol and followed it up with his two most recent wins. This hot pace will be hard to keep up as the Chase battle brews, but the No. 48 team is serving notice that they will be a force to be reckoned with as they go for two championships in a row.

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Open Wheel Drivers Becoming The Choice Du Jour Of NASCAR Owners…At The Expense Of Everyone Else

On a lazy Sunday afternoon at Chicagoland, one of the most dramatic championships in open wheel history had just reached an eye-popping conclusion, with the third turn of the last lap finally settling a battle that brought excitement to an all-time high. But the 2007 IRL trophy hadn't even been dusted off for its rightful owner, Dario Franchitti, when he was asked the question most racing aficionados already had the answer to: Would he be moving to NASCAR? The Scotsman was noncommittal in his response, but just the hesitation in his voice revealed the answer he's not yet able to say out loud: all indications are the open wheel racer is on his way to the world of stock cars. According to published reports, a five-year offer from Chip Ganassi Racing has been put on the table, and sponsorship is in place for Franchitti to make the jump from IndyCar to a series with just a _little_ different type of chassis. Are you surprised by this? Don't be. If it happens, Franchitti will be just the latest man to make the move over to fendered cars under the NASCAR sanctioning banner, continuing a recent trend of NASCAR owners wooing talent from the suffering world of open wheel. Jacques Villeneuve and Sam Hornish appear destined to make a similar switch to Nextel Cup for 2008; come 2009, Dan Wheldon and Patrick Carpentier will likely join them.

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Running Their Mouth : Chevy Rock & Roll 400

_Each week, we'll go through all the media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Nextel Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It's the most original commentary you'll ever find; the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members, and the car owners themselves. This week, here's a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway._ "We didn't have the best car tonight until the very end. It was pretty awesome at the end. I kept telling myself I was in practice... we're off to a good start (to the Chase)." _Jimmie Johnson, winner of the Chevy Rock & Roll 400_ "I'm happy for Jimmie, but I hate that he got those ten points on us. Great run for us (though). I had to settle for what - fourth, I guess. Happy to have Nicorette on the car and hope to help people stop smoking." _Jeff Gordon, finished 4th_

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Numbers Game : Chevy Rock & Roll 400

*2nd* Career Cup victory and third Top 10 finish at Richmond International Raceway for Chevy Rock & Roll 400 winner Jimmie Johnson. *3* Number of times Jimmie Johnson led the Chevy Rock & Roll 400. *3rd* David Ragan's finishing position in the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 - - his career best -- earning him Rookie of the Race honors for the 11th time this season.

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Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Richmond Race Recap

*The Key Moment*: Jimmie Johnson left the pits in the lead during the final caution period and was never headed. *In a Nutshell*: Another race where a few drivers dominated portions of the event - but there was, in fact, some great racing behind them. I just hope Frontstretch's own Jeff Meyer and Mr. David Poole can agree to disagree on this one. *Dramatic Moment*: The three-way battle between Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Tony Stewart was outstanding…it's just too bad they were scrapping for second. As far as the much ballyhooed, all singing, all dancing, must-see-TV Chase, Kurt Busch got hit hard during the Ryan Newman / Matt Kenseth incident. Kevin Harvick had to take to the grass to avoid the mess, and his car began overheating badly. That incident had the potential to eliminate them both and put Junior into the Chase. During the ensuing red flag, the crowd went wild - but both drivers recovered with solid finishes. _Author's Note: Of course, Junior still would have blown an engine and missed the Chase anyway, at which point the DEI engine department would had to have been put into the Federal Witness Protection Program._

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Ten Points to Ponder … After Richmond

*1. The Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 400* - Oh, you mean that wasn't the name of Saturday night's race? Could have fooled me. Earnhardt's odds of making the Chase were ridiculously slim going into Richmond, making ESPN/ABC's singular focus on him both ridiculous and _way_ over the top. *2. Abracadabra* - And presto, chango. Wave the magic Chase wand and watch Jeff Gordon's 410-point lead over Jimmie Johnson change into a 20-point deficit, just like that. Think that was a big change? Kurt Busch went from 11th place and 657 points to fifth place and 40 points out in one night. Now, we will have to spend the rest of the season listening to NASCAR boast about how "close" the competition is for the title. Am I the only one still bothered by this contrivance?

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Nextel Cup Rookie Report: Ragan Rocks At Richmond

*Rookies in the Starting Lineup*: David Ragan (8th), Juan Pablo Montoya (15th), David Reutimann (24th), A.J.Allmendinger (27th), Paul Menard (38th) *Unofficial Finishing Positions*: David Ragan (3rd), David Reutimann (13th), A.J. Allmendinger (23rd), Paul Menard (26th), Juan Pablo Montoya (41st) *Rookie of the Race: David Ragan*. Ragan turned in yet another strong short track qualifying performance as he rolled off the grid in 8th, his second career-best starting position following a 4th two weeks ago at Bristol. For the better part of the night, though, it looked as if the AAA team would not be able to back up time trials with a strong run in the race.

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